A part of Africa in Peru

Peru is a a multiethnic country. Besides descendants of the original Amerindian inhabitants, there are descendants from all the different ethnic groups, mainly European, Asian and African, that have arrived since the colonisation by Spain in the 16th century. In the case of Africans, their arrival in Peru began in the colonial period when, tragically, they were brought as slaves. Today, the Afro-Peruvians are still very much concentrated in some coastal areas south of Lima, specifically in the region of Ica and the city of Chincha. Over the centuries they have contributed to what is today, the common culture of Peru and their influence can be found in, say, music, dance and cooking. El Carmen is a small village, 10 Kms. from Chincha, mainly inhabited by Afro-Peruvians, where every year they hold dance and religious festivals that fuse African, Inca and European traditions. A visit to El Carmen has to include lunch at Mamainé, where "mother Inés" cooks the best carapulcra in Peru. Carapulcra is a stew made with pork and dehydrated potatoes, accompanied by sopa seca (noodles)  - literally, dry soup. Not far from here, is Casa Hacienda San José. The main house of this estate, which is now a hotel, was built by the Jesuits in the 17th century and later sold to a local landowner. At it´s height, up to 1000 slaves worked in its fields, producing sugar cane and cotton. Underneath the estate, there are a number of passages, which appear to have been constructed to smuggle the slaves in from the coast, in order to avoid paying taxes. A tragic episode, which we can set aside, though never forget, digging into a plate of carapulcra, washed down by a glass of tutuma liquor and maybe an impromptu show of music and dance at Mamainé.


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