David, Juliana, Mario, Me, Sergio
Sergio's brothers arrived to Arequipa just in time for Semana Santa (Holy Week), the commemoration of the last week of Jesus' life and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
While Sergio's family is protestant, they took advantage of the national holiday on Thursday to cook a delicious lamb leg, potatoes and sweet potatoes in the bakery's traditional oven (see earlier post):To digest the surfeit amount of meat we consumed, and experience an Arequipa tradition, we joined in on a pilgrimage on foot from church to church within the city.
It's called "las estaciones." The most dedicated Catholics walk to fourteen different churches located across a city of one million people, paralleling the fourteen stations of Jesus' crucifixion. At each church, believers beg forgiveness for their sins, the walk further cleansing them.
We followed the crowd from Miraflores to downtown, visiting the five churches along the way, including the famous cathedral located on the main plaza. Check out all the people:
All the streets were closed to vehicles. Vendors took their place, selling delicious treats including chocolate-covered strawberries, candied fruits, sandwiches, chocolate eggs, etc...
On a street flanking the Cathedral, vendors had set up tables. There we stopped and drank two popular teas: ponche (various fruits) and diana (milk, coconut and almond).
Here is Sergio, happily drinking his yapa (free second serving) of ponche as the crowds heading to the plaza pass by:
Sergio and his brothers assure me this Holy Thursday pilgrimage can only be found in Arequipa. If so, what a beautiful community tradition.