The culture of Peru is on display on the Mall in Washington, D.C., until Sunday. Catch Peru: Pachamama (Mother Earth) if you can.
Most of you can't, but I would say put the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on your travel to-do list, should you ever visit D.C. in late June or early July.
The Smithsonian does a great job of bringing in people, culture, crafts, food and more, from places all over the world.
Last year the themes were Kenya and China. Other years, states or cities have been represented. The festival planners go all out to bring in artists, craftspeople and performers.
And the exhibits can be astounding. From Smithsonian's website:
In recreating physical settings for the traditions represented, the Festival has built a horse racetrack (from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol Building), an Indian village with forty-foot-high bamboo and paper statues, a Japanese rice paddy, and a New Mexican adobe plaza.
For example, local fishing families from Huanchaco on the northern coast build rafts, from reeds, that last only about a month.
Dancers celebrate the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo wearing masks of various characters, including that of the Spanish machu, or captain. The get-ups poke fun at European features and mannerisms.
I learned how quinoa is grown and harvested and examined plants on display; inspected different types of spears used for fishing and hunting; admired bowls of painted gourds.
The best thing about the Folklife festival is how interactive it is, with kids getting to inspect and touch things, parades appearing out of nowhere, entertaining programs going on throughout the day. The down side is how long the lines for food always are. I'm seldom willing to wait, even to try authentic
Catch it if you can. This year or in the future.
In the video above, a bilingual American translates the Spanish of a bilingual Peruvian who translates the Quechua spoken by a woman from a fishing village.
She is "el hablador," literally "the talker." (The Peruvians are wearing clothes made from tree bark.)
Photos: Ellen Perlman