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Inside-Peru Newsletter, Issue #015 - The Plaza
March 07, 2011
The center of
life in most Hispanic towns is the
about every hole in the wall, one-church village has a main plaza.
So, I thought I'd dedicate this newsletter to
plazas from places we have sojourned.
The Plaza Principal
In Peru, it's usually name the Plaza de Armas, no matter what the
Our Home Town - Los Organos, Peru
We have lived in cities, towns, and little
villages, and the
plazas always formed the core of our shopping and business visits, not
to mention social and relaxation visits.
office, banks, money changers, and markets are usually located in the
Usually, the best restaurants are on the plaza
The main business of life is carried on in the
Overlooking Main Plaza
Checking things out - Los Organos, Peru
During the day, the plaza itself may be used for street vendors, old people feeding the pigeons...
...and people with time to kill
some shade to sit in.
It really comes to life, though, in the evening, especially in the warmer climes, like here.
It is where young parents take their
and kids to
stroll around, buy an ice cream (helados), with space for the kids to
around. The parents can enjoy watching their children play and visit
friends that show up.
Restaurant on Main Plaza, Tarija, Bolivia
The plaza is the
perfect place for the retired
enjoy a stroll or to sit and watch the action, better than TV in most
You will find groups of older men in animated
conversation as they circle the
plaza in the cool night air getting their exercise…but mainly a chance
out the news of the day with their cronies.
In the later mornings, they will appear again at the panaderias (bakeries) or cafes, where they will sit with their coffee, smoke, and jaw some more.
Napping in Talara, Peru
Of course, afternoons are for siestas, and where
better to take a little nap that the bench in the plaza.
In the past, the plaza was the main point for marriage age señoritas to take the air with their chaperones.
Moving in a circle, they would pass young men promenading in the opposite direction and sneak a glance or even a coquettish look with them.
Schoolgirls in Tarija, Bolivia
Aside from church, this is where the most contact
between the sexes took place.
Now, the evenings are more likely to be filled with loud techno music, be it salsa, cumbia, or andina, depending on the town.
The señoritas are not chaperoned as in old times but always arrive in groups.
Unchaperoned couples are not the norm here.
Cities may have problems at times with certain plazas being the gathering place for a certain sector of the population - drugs, gangs, etcetera.
Los Organos, Peru
Banner announcing the "Caribenos" tropical music, entrance to plaza
But in the smaller towns with just one plaza, the mix of families, grandparents, and youngsters keeps things family oriented.
There is always something going in the plaza.
It might be an
exhibition of local art, a soap box orator, a full-on program by the
schools with dancing and pageantry or it might be the center of the new
Any way you look at it, you cannot beat the plaza for some place to go in the evening.How about you? Wanna hit the plaza tonight? Hey, how about eating at the parillada on the corner…or maybe just anticuchos? And helados afterwards?
Helados - Ice Cream Hmmm... which one?
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