Tuesday, November 23, 2004


On Saturday it was back to Cerro Juli, where we went to watch the bands on Arequipa's anniversary; this time to see Puerto Rican salsa singer Jerry Rivera. Now, despite being a fan of salsa, I have to admit to not having heard of Jerry Rivera - I guess I just like whatever they play. Pretty much everyone else had, though - there were about 10-15,000 people crowded into the bullring at the "Fia" on Cerro Juli.

The event summed up a lot of what is typical about Peru. The tickets said "7pm", and some of my friends were convinced that this meant Jerry Rivera would start playing at 7. I had a tough time convincing them we didn't need to go out there that early. Of course, it turned out that they didn't even open the gates until nearly 9pm, by which time there was a huge line outside.

Inside, the organizers had done their absolute best to ensure chaos at the beer tents. There was a total of 1 tent for each of the three levels, with two harried girls serving in each. They were taking payment in cash, but of course had no change. Naturally there was a glass ban, meaning every person's order had to be laboriously poured frothily into a plastic cup. Division of labour being an unknown concept; both the girls franticly tried to accept money, find bottles and cups, and serve the beer.

I waited for an hour to buy two glasses of beer. It was a short, but extremely packed queue, with the crush growing greater as time went on as everyone tried to manouevre themselves into better positions for when the next person would extricate themselves from the counter area. There was no limit on the number of drinks that could be ordered, meaning that some people spent 15 minutes at the counter, handing an endless chain of drinks back to their friends.

Meanwhile, as the series of lukewarm opening acts finished up, there was absolutely no indication of when Jerry Rivera would appear. Recorded music was piped out from about 11:00 without comment, and by 12:30 I was fully expecting Jerry not to show at all. About 12:45, he finally made his appearance on stage, and I was deafened by the screams of all the girls around me, inspired to sever their tonsils by the sight of a short, chunky guy at the distance of about half a kilometre...

An hour of bouncy salsa later it was all over and everyone traipsed out. Thanks for coming, Jerry...

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