Saturday, June 20, 2009

Taxi and Huayno Peruano

Finally it was time to leave Lima and frankly I was a little sad. There is never enough time to see a whole city, however only a few days seemed like bad planning.

But alas we had to depart, so we hailed a cab and made our way to the airport, in order to catch our flight to Cusco. This taxi was the most high tech taxi we had seen in all of Lima. Whereas most cabs were old and shabby looking, this driver looked like he was trying out for MTV's Pimp My Taxi.

This innovative driver had a television screen with a connecting dvd player in his car. Don't overestimate however, it was nothing like the touchscreens now seen in NYC cabs, where you can play around in the back seat, although it did make for some interesting entertainment. The best part of the car was the telephone the driver pulled out from somewhere in the front seat. It wasn't a car phone no no, (that would be too obvious), it wasn't a cell phone (again obvious), but rather a land line telephone that he somehow got to work inside the cab. He explained it to us but I'm not one for technology chats.

He had DVDs for us to choose from, most of them music DVDs. He suggested we choose traditional Peruvian music, music he called huayno. Little did we know that this would be our first taste of the music we would soon be hearing all over. Huayno is very distinguishable and especially for those hearing it for the first time, it is most definitely an acquired taste. The vocals are extremely high pitched and accompanied by flute, harp, panpipe, guitar, charango, and mandolin. Below is a song by Stalim Manrique.

Huayno Dancers
Photo by: Otra vez me hice Mujer

Huayno is very popular in Andean culture. You can hear it in the mountains of Peru, often transmitted by radio, since many of the people living there do not have televisions. The music may seem a little strange to travelers when they hear it, since the sound is very unique. After all the singing is high pitched and can seem a little off key, but the tradition has lasted for a very long time, since pre-Hispanic Peru. No doubt there is lots of emotion, often about love, love lost, unrequited love, you get the idea. One of the songs I heard in the cab was about a man whose lover drove him so crazy he resorted to alcohol. The lyrics were funny and although I don't remember them exactly they were something like "I love you so much that I must drink." I understand the sentiment but for me it usually involves Ben & Jerry's rather than Johnnie Walker.

In huayno, often times you will hear people in the background, children speaking, or people cheering the singer on.
"Que sigue bailando" Keep dancing.
"Ay mi corazoncito" Oh my heart.
I admit I don't listen to huayno much in the privacy of my own home, but take a look for yourself and experience the music from a very rich culture.

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