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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Santa Rosa de Lima

Monday was a national holiday in Perú honoring Santa Rosa de Lima. Santa Rosa lived in Lima in the late 1500s and was apparently a very beautiful woman. She performed many miracles including healing the blind, curing her mother’s favorite rooster, making a pact with the mosquitoes in her garden so they wouldn’t bother her while she was praying, and somehow conjuring up a storm to keep a Dutch pirate ship from invading Lima - all saint-worthy endeavors as far as I’m concerned.

In Lima, the faithful celebrate by going to the Santuario de Santa Rosa de Lima, a church built where the saint was born and later died. They go to attend mass and to ask Santa Rosa to heal illnesses by writing their requests in a letter and dropping it in a well on the church grounds. When I arrived at the church at about 8am, the line to get to the well was already about 5 blocks long and took about an hour. When I left an hour and a half later, the line was about 15 blocks long and growing.

I waited in line which was incredibly orderly. There are only two things here in Peru that really bug the living shit out of me. One, as you already know, is la hora Peruana but I’m acostumbraring (getting used to) to things starting late. The other is people blatantly cutting in line for which I haven’t found a good coping mechanism (a stern glowering doesn't work for shit). Anyway, the line wound through the streets of the central district (where I wouldn’t want to be after dark) into the front gates with a Statue of the Sta. Rosa busting a sweet dance move and into the basilica's garden where the well was. There in the well I dropped a little note wishing my mom a speedy recovery and walked around a bit. There was Sta. Rosa’s bedroom where she slept on hard wooden planks and used three rocks for pillows.

After, I walked up the street and up the bridge to look at the Rio Rimac, the source of Lima’s drinking water. The Rimac starts several hundred kilometers up the mountains to the east as a pristine river with clean water. Along the way, mining companies dump their heavy metals, factories dump their hazardous wastes, and houses dump human piss and shit into it. By the time it reaches the bridge I was standing on, it’s basically an open sewer on its way to the sea a few miles to my west.

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