WASHINGTON – Eloisa Margarita Piminchumo Dominguez, 56, a hotel cook from Huanchaco, Peru, held up a pink crab just larger than a quarter Wednesday. As a Spanish guitar played nearby and a throng of people filed past, Dominguez explained how her family fishes in a river near their home. She laughed heartily as the surrounding group bent down to photograph the crab.
Dominguez and more than 150 other participants are bringing the culture of Peru to the National Mall during the 49th Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Located near the National Museum of the American Indian, the festival runs Wednesday through Sunday and again July 1-5.
“This 49th annual Folklife Festival, ‘Pachamama,’ is really fundamentally about people getting to know one another,” Michael Mason, director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage said. “Human beings looking into each others’ eyes, asking each other questions, dancing together, eating together, and it is that bridge that makes the festival something that will always be relevant.”
Visitors to the festival can try the large-kernel Peruvian corn, called choclo, and learn about the history of Peru from a Peruvian. They can dance with a member of the masquerade troupe La Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo, as Lauren Thomas, 19, a student from Fairfax, Va., did.
“To dance with him was amazing. He was an incredible dancer. He led me,” Thomas said.
Craftsmen, including weavers, are scattered throughout the festival. Patricia Morea, 64, a retired teacher from Quakerstown, Pa., squatted to watch one weaver from Cusco Textiles complete an intricate rug.
“I was fascinated. The detail and intricacy of her work was stunning,” Morea said.
The goal of the festival is to have people from the United States experience a bit of Peru. However, it is also helping some of the people of Peru experience the United States. Dominguez, through interpreter Ana Reyes, 26, of Washington, described how she flew on a plane for the first time to attend the festival.
“When I was 30, I had the chance to travel to Germany, but I didn’t because I was afraid of the plane. Now I know flying is very easy,” Dominguez said through Reyes.
Overall, Dominguez said she is impressed with the United States because it is clean and the highways are well done. However, she was surprised that both men and women in the United States work. At home in Peru it is mainly men who work outside of the home.
“I might want to stay,” Dominguez said through Reyes.
Reach reporter Sarah Fulton at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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