Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Velada Artistica (The Talent Show)

Folks watching the velada artistica in the plaza.
It's not a velada without a provocative dance by a bunch of hot girls.
Maestros de ceremonia

Last month, my socio comunitario (community counterpart) approached me about doing a velada artistica. It was not exactly in my job description being a Water and Sanitation Volunteer and all, but since I didn’t have shit going on as far as projects go, I figured what the hell. The purpose of the velada artistica was to give the folks in my sleepy little town something to do on an otherwise uneventful Friday night. I spent two weeks trying to convince the local institutions - schools, the instituto, the health post, etc. to put together acts and then hoping they showed up on the day of the event.

The velada was scheduled to start at 4 pm sharp in the town plaza which meant the sound system showed up at 4 and took over an hour to get set up. Once the sound system was set up, we made announcements over the PA to come on down to the plaza for the grand show. The timid townsfolk filtered in little by little and by the time we actually got started, around 6:30, there were around 50 folks gathered.

My socio and I emceed the event, my socio being a professional emcee and I, well, I was just the 2 meter gringo freak show, an attaction in and of itself. A couple of acts into the show, my socio had to run off to the instituto to go take a test, leaving me to fly solo. I was a nervous wreck which didn’t help my Spanish, but I calmed down and apparently did OK. Days after the event I was told I had “la voz que embaraza” (the voice that impregnates). So if for some reason there are a bunch of tallish gringo children running around Rio Grande when I leave, I can assure you it was the voice.

As the night went on people kept showing up and by the end of the night there were by my estimate around 200 people. Not bad for a town with only 1200 or so people. The show included kids doing traditional dances. The health post put on a sketch about child abuse (the obstetriz did a great job as the abusive mother… maybe a little too good…). The high school kids did a lip-sync number about a man cheating on his girl (a common theme for the music down here for some reason – oh wait…).

I even sang!! My site mate Jess played her guitar and we sang Rocky Top and Hotel California. The last time I sang in public was at karaoke night at Friar Tucks in Chicago after a number of pints of liquid courage in front of a small crowd that was half in the bag. This time, no liquid courage and well over 100 sober Peruvians. Since the songs were in English and the folks had no idea what we were singing we were in the clear but, all modesty aside, we rocked the f*ckin’ joint.

The next day, the town was abuzz. They hadn’t seen an event like that in a while and everyone seemed to have enjoyed it. I didn’t get any latrines built or improve any water systems but maybe fulfilled one of Peace Corps’ goals of letting the rest of the world that not all Americans are a bunch of war-mongering, self-serving, ignorant douche bags.

1 comment:

  1. Friar Tuck's....siiiiggghh. How I miss that place - great story dude!