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February 13, 2007 18:10:02 | in Ica

Chincha, Peru - El Carmen de los Festejos

for map of the area - click here -Courtesy of
(LIP-wb) -- Chincha is an enclave of Afro-Peruvian culture, the home of hospitable and joyful people who have managed to conserve the traditions and customs of past generations and disseminate them through their music. They say that they have a secret in heaven, which they guard jealously here on Earth.

The Mysterious Don Amador

To wander through the dusty streets of El Carmen in Chincha at midday can be an invigorating experience. An unsuspected luxury. Heat without thirst. And a mystical air which permeates everything without tiring anyone.

The children of Carmen run barefoot, their faces wreathed in smiles. They are happy, for they learn the secret of El Carmen at an early age and keep it from their nieghbours from nearby communities. Throughout the year, during hours stolen from their playtime, Chincha’s children practice traditional dance steps to the delight of the image of the Holy Virgin of Carmen., Peru
Don Amador Ballumbrosio, the father of the famous clan of brother artists, has spent years initiating children into the mysteries of Afro-Peruvian music and dance as expressed by the unique traditions and aesthetics of Chincha.

Now in his seventies and undaunted by his wheelchair, he continues to fulfill the duty he imposed on himself so long ago that nobody can remember when he started. He teaches the children to dance for the Virgin, to express with their feet what lies in their hearts.

For the two principal days of celebration, on July 15th and December 27th, dances like the "festejo", "landó", "zapateo", "panalivio" and "contrapunto" must be perfectly rehearsed before being accompanied by Don Amador’s magical violin and percussion instruments like the extraordinary "donkey’s jawbone".

The Black Presence in El Carmen de Chincha, Peru
Afro-Peruvians have been living in Chincha since shortly after the first blacks arrived with Pizarro and Almagro.

The Spanish invaders established the systems of "encomiendas", "reducciones" and "repartimientos", which translated into terrible statistics for the indigenous population. Of the estimated fifteen million inhabitants of the Inca empire, only some two to three million remained by the time of the first census of the independence era. The annihilation of the native peoples of Peru created a labor vacuum, which the colonial rulers filled by importing black slaves.

The contingents of slaves brought from Africa or the Atlantic islands were destined for the mining and agriculture sectors. The Africans were unable to adapt to the cold of the Andes, and were concentrated in the coastal haciendas of Ica, Chincha, Cañete, Zaña and Piura (Yapatera).

The black presence in these areas remains strong today. The towns of El Carmen in Chincha and Yapatera in Morropón (Piura) are cohesive communities where African traditions are complemented by indigenous practices to form unique cultural and artistic expressions., Peru
Celebrations for the Virgin

By the end of the 19th century, dance had become the principal expression of black culture. The Chincha-born expert in folklore, Clorinda Pachas Torres, says that in the black bastion of El Carmen, "All the traditional black music of Peru is danced and sung".

Catholicism is one of the Western cultural expressions which had the greatest impact upon the Andean cosmovision, creating rapturous manifestations of religious syncretism. The black slaves brought by the Spanish had often already been indoctrinated into the Church.

To the Festival of the Virgin of Carmen, the Afro-Peruvian community of Chincha brought their own gastronomy, culture and rhythms, making July 16th and December 27th the most important dates on the local calendar., Peru
In July, the celebrations begin on the ninth. On the eve of the 16th the streets fill with music, dancers and the acrid smoke of fireworks, and recitals and parties are held in the houses. On the morning of July 16th locals crowd the main square to attend the mass, honoring the Virgin with bands, choirs and processions. Tents and marquees are erected around the square, where the tireless dancers and musicians gather to drink and eat.

Chevo and the Virgin

"For me, the Virgin of Carmen means everything", says Chevo, one of Don Amador Ballumbrosio’s most talented children. "At the age of twenty I became ill with a nervous disorder. To cure me, I promised to carry the Virgin, attend all of her celebrations and work for the community and its children. And she responded., Peru
Not as an apparition or a voice one might hear. It was more internal. It is as if everything good that I have comes from her. It’s a reason to carry on living. Many people in Chincha claim to have seen her, or been reprimanded by her for their bad behavior. But she cured me and changed my life without any of that".

In the mid-1990s, Chevo Ballumbrosio met the photographer and anthropologist Carmen del Prado, whose extraordinary images accompany this article. "First, I showed her El Carmen. Then I introduced her to my family and she began to learn more about our ways, our past and our traditions".

From then, Carmen dedicated herself to recording the finest celebrations in honor of the Virgin of Carmen from Chincha to Paucartambo in Cusco. She was killed in a road accident in March of this year. They say that the Virgin wanted her at her side, at the heart of the festivities. So, let’s drink to that and keep the rhythm going!

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# Emma Parker says :
28 February, 2007 [ 09:56 ]
Great informaion! I enjoyed reading this article.
# Griselda Martinez says :
15 March, 2007 [ 12:39 ]
I had the pleasure of visiting Chincha in January and I can tell you I absolutely loved it! stayed at the Hacienda San Jose, enjoyed the music, the food and learned how to dance the "Alcatraz". 
# alix midgley says :
19 April, 2007 [ 07:48 ]
Hi, I was wondering if you would be willing to help me with more information about visiting Chincha? I would very much like to stop there on my way from Lima to Ayacucho in early July, but I am curious about transportation. Is there a bus from one of the main bus companies in Lima? Is it necessary to take a bus to Ica, and search for a different bus to Chicha? How about hiring a taxi? Also, places to stay, restaurants, etc? Unfortunately there is very very little information on the web about the area, but it sounds like an incredible place- thanks for your extraordinary article.

# Joe says :
19 April, 2007 [ 09:31 ]

I suggest placing your inquiry in our interactive forum (link) - I'm sure you'll be able to find the answers to your questions there.
# LUIS LAFORA says :
29 April, 2007 [ 09:44 ]

First of all, I want to congratulate Mr. Korch for the excellent interview on EL COMERCIO today, sunday.

I would like to give you some tips about eating in Chincha.  There is a must in Chincha, SUNAMPE. There,  are several restaurants where you can eat the typical Chincha gastronomy, carapulcra, sopa seca, duck with rice, chicken soup, etc.etc. In Sunampe the best typical restaurant is called "EL BOSQUE".

In Chincha , on the Panamerican highway, within the city, you can find "LOS PATITOS" the best place to eat duck in all forms.
Just in case, just a few milles south, is Pisco, the best place in Peru to eat all kinds of fish food, smelt (pejerrey), scallops, sea snails, octopus, etc. etc.   

# Raquel says :
30 April, 2007 [ 11:26 ]


# maria cassoet haverty says :
4 April, 2008 [ 07:26 ]
# maiahr lundly justy says :
5 April, 2008 [ 09:08 ]
no i have not why???

what is it like ???
# Reina says :
12 May, 2008 [ 04:44 ]
My sisters, neice, and I travelled via private driver to Chincha to visit with Don Amador Ballumbrosio and his family in March 2008.  It was awesome!  While the family members gathered relatives from the neighborhood and the girls prepared to dance, we had a opportunity to talk with (he told me to call him Amador).  He has a rich history and has a wonderful fatherly presence.  I loved talking with him.  My only draw back was that I speak little Spanish, so I had to depend on our tour guide to translate. The girls danced beautifully for us, the sons danced and played instruments.  After a family photo shot. I left him with the words "I go back home to tell my great father (indeed I have a great and wonderful Dad) that I met another great father while visiting Peru."  Don Amadore blessed me with a gentle kiss on the hand.  We departed with wonderful memories.  We listened to his music on the way back to Lima.  Boom-boom, boom-boom... May God bless you Don Amador Ballumbrosio and your beautiful family.  Your are in our prayers.

Also a big shout out to George and Maria and La Hacienda San Jose where we ate lunch and toured the Slave Quarters and earthquake damage church.  Thank you all for your hospitality.

We also visited Canete, Huacachina, and Pisco and the Huaca Archeological site. 
# mari says :
14 May, 2008 [ 09:40 ]

How wonderful would be to visit the Ballumbrosio family , I never had that chance, I hope the Ballet Negro from Peru can come back to Usa.
Those people are one of the best folklores we as peruvians have, our beautiful Musica Negra.
God bless them.

# Peter & Sharleem says :
22 June, 2008 [ 02:16 ]
Well,we had the opportunity to visit Ica city in April /2008 and we stayed at HOSPEDAJE MIAMI near to the movies area in Ica,very nice,clean and wonderfull attention with affordable package price,we went to  Huacachina, nice trip with the buggy's car,was amazing fun!!  Also the food is good and wonderful people.A lot tourist I saw here,is a great escape of routine.
I recomend this place for turist people to stay here; 011 51-56 238165 in Ica -Peru.   ---Hasta la vista amigos-Gracias
# P C says :
7 October, 2008 [ 01:38 ]

I read all comments in this blog, but is hard to believe how everyone failed to understand the need of the people, everyone there was affected by the earthquake, I just got back from visiting and had lots of touching moments with the community, unfortunetly the gov't is not helping and there are many organizations that are helping and will be helping, however, help is very scarce, for the person that mentioned that would like to help people with jobs, My dear, there are many jobs in construction, people need to get a roof over their heads, most men are not interested in helping recontruct their city because of "broken promises", as a tourist people only see what they want to see, but as a person (myself) that does both, live and see the people, I find that this are is still in great help of re-building..Men want to drink,drink, I don't blame them..The funds that were given right after the earthquake have been frozen..For those of you that are finding Peru to be a beautiful coutry, yes it is, what did you think? it wasn't it? Every country has it's beauty you just have to find it..Also much have changed since the earthquake, so let's hope things get better there..

Stayed at the Sausal, beautiful hotel

Ate at a local place, very nice food.."El Batan", and real local "Lorena" not far from the hotel..

One word of advice this is not a country to go on adventure unless you go with a guided tour..don't go wondering you'll be taken easily..Also, If you want to go to the Galapagos of Peru "Islas Ballestas", you must book a day in advance to go there, the boats are now only leaving in the Am like 8 am..hard to get them to go without a group..

# says :
16 November, 2008 [ 02:56 ]
# steelers21 says :
11 December, 2008 [ 12:52 ]

Going to live in Lima for six weeks, and planning on going to Ica, and Chincha.  Does anyone know about Verano Negro??  I have been doing research on it, and I know it is in the month of Feburary. And i have a question for the person above, I plan on doing these travles alone, what do you mean "dont go wandering you will be takin easily" ?  Is it dangerous there, because i dont have that impression.  Mind you, I am a 6 2" blk man from Washington Dc, so I will be cautious, but i also want to enjoy myself.

# Giuliana says :
19 December, 2008 [ 10:41 ]
I am a native from Chincha, living n DC now; for my experience being there all I can say is that people in Chincha are very kind, generous, happy and friendly. If you are going to visit you just have to be aware that just like any other first world or third world country you just have to be careful, Chincha is not a dangerous place, not at all. As soon as you arrive do some research with the locals, guide if you have one, promperu offices(at airport Jorge Chavez)hotels, usually some people may try to take advantage with prices, taxi(always take one that has a valid license), souveniers, that kind of stuff. Verano Negro is a fun time in Chincha, there'll be many activities, specially during the weekends, the best places to see the best in dance is El Carmen, food and souveniers Sunampe and Grocio Prado( always good for 'sopa seca con carapulcra' and 'tamales' special dishes from Chincha, Tambo de Mora has nice beaches; Sunampe and Grocio Prado are  good for their 'vinedos' and 'bodegas de vino' and ohhh yes you have to try 'cachina' is a homemade type of juice/wine. Grocio Prado is a good place for 'bunuelos'(kind of doughnuts, just a lot better with some syrup) and if you ask for a 'borrachito' (special kind of 'bunuelo') is even better, look for these at the plaza de armas de Grocio Prado close by Melchorita.
Getting there from Lima is simple, there are many busses that goes south, Soyuz, Ormeno are one of those; you just need to take a taxi(if you can get a policeman or somebody from the airport to catch a taxi is a lot better) from the airport Jorge Chavez to 'la agencia Soyuz u Ormeno que va a Chincha' and  everybody knows it, it will take about 3 hours, this is because the buses will stop along the way at some cities to leave or take passengers; once you get there Sausal is a good and safe hotel to stay, there are others around the 'plaza de Armas' too I just can't remember names; and if you go to the Municipalidad de Chincha located at the Plaza de Armas you can get a detailed list of events for Verano Negro.
# steelers21 says :
20 December, 2008 [ 10:19 ]
Thanks Giuliana,

I will take heed to what u are saying, and visit those places.  Are you enjoying DC, I love my city, I leave for Peru Jan. 8!! Will live in Lima

# Giuliana says :
20 December, 2008 [ 10:45 ]
Hi Steelers21,
I do enjoy DC, been to museums, cafe, restaurants, still waiting to discover more of this fantastic area, is because is so much to see and do here! Hope you enjoy your trip down there, just one more thing if you go to Ica, you can taste good wine too in Ocucaje, do some sandboarding in Huacachina(around the plaza de armas there are some travel agengies who contact to do that), eating pallares con seco is a must, going to Velasco and Helenas stores for dessert is another must. If you have time you should try to get in a aircraft and fly over Nazca Lines too, is closer from Ica than from Lima. Hope this is helpful, sure once you get there you'll find more information about these places, ejoy you stay in Peru!!!
# Liselotte says :
29 December, 2008 [ 12:05 ]

I'm a Dutch student and I'm going to visit Lima, Trujillo end of this January and three weeks later I will stay for 8 more weeks in Ica. I'm going to do an investigation for my study (Cultural Anthropology) on Afro-Peruvian music. I know Chincha is the real centre of this type of music, but maybe someone knows where I can find Afro-Peruvian musicians, organisations and events in Ica? Are there any Penas over there? 
@ PC: I already considered the enormous impact of the earthquake on the lives of the people. I understand you're a Peruvian? Where do you live? Maybe I can help when I'm there..
@Steelers: Do you already know when you will be in Ica? 

# steelers21 says :
29 December, 2008 [ 01:24 ]

I will be in Lima on January 8, 2009....But I plan to visit the Ica region some weekend in late January or early February.  I am also writing a journal, but it is on cultural programming of Peru, and I will focus some of my topic arouind afro-peruvian culture.

When you are in Lima, you can email me at:

My name is Dana

Safe travels!

# Lola Castro says :
19 January, 2009 [ 08:23 ]
Hi steelers21,

Verano Negro usually takes place during the last week of February. Chincha has many hotels and hostals, but if you're interested in staying in El Carmen proper where the Ballumbrosio family lives, there are now two possibilities. The Casa Hacienda San Jose is closed for repairs. There is Albergue Huaranjapo which is at a maximum 10 minute walk to the main square and an hospedaje (I don't recall the exact name of the place) which is directly at the square and right beside the church. Huaranjapo has a website (it also has a swimming pool)

I know that this year both El Guayabo and El Carmen are going to have a Yunza at this time (lots of dancing, drinking and fun). They will hopefully be during 2 consecutive weekends, so you donÙ't have to miss one!
If you want to eat at El Carmen, 2 possibilities are open to you: Celia Ballumbrosio's place and this hospedaje turistico at the plaza. Celia is a good cook who serves extra generous portions. 

Maybe the owner at Huaranjapo can tell you abour the schedule of events at El Carmen...

El Guayabo has its own restaurant Mamaine.

# steelers21 says :
22 January, 2009 [ 07:09 ]
Thanks Lola,

I plan to go there in mid Feb.  because i leave for Cuzco on Feb. 18  So i will go the weekend before.
# Kurt van Aert says :
23 January, 2009 [ 03:31 ]

Hi what a coincedence, I´m also Dutch and wanna do a photo reportage on the verano negro. Maybe we can meet. My emailadress is


# Lola Castro says :
30 January, 2009 [ 07:51 ]
Hi Steelers21,

I just received an e-mail from the owner of El Huaranjapo. She has told me that she's organizing a Yunza at her place saturday February 7, I have no idea where you will be at that time but if you go, I know it will be a good one. The village people that are going to dance in this ceremony are all very good dancers. IF you go, you can tell the owner whose name is Edith, that I sent you...
By the way I'll be in Cuzco from february 27 to march 6, maybe we'll meet (I have no idea how!!!)

# Eric Potts says :
22 July, 2009 [ 12:21 ]
Hi everybody! I'm new to this site so bear with me! A friend of mine told me about this place where theres a lot of Africans dwell. Not too many of them in Latin America. I'm also interested in the women due to the fact that I'm a single man. Please send me more informatiom about this country. thank you.
# Mike says :
22 July, 2009 [ 05:22 ]


The people who dwell here are called Peruvians. You must be looking for the continent called Africa, that is where the Africans live.

# Eliza says :
26 July, 2009 [ 08:57 ]
Eric, the place is called Chincha Alta.  Mike is a butthead. 
# eric w says :
9 August, 2009 [ 11:43 ]
Hello all,I am a an african american chef doing research of the foods of latin america where the decendents of african slaves have set foot in order to both feature these foods on my Pan African restaurant menu as well as educate those that are unaware of the african contributions to these places as a whole and last hopefully shed light on the plights of the people whose foods and cultures we love so much by doing my part and taking part in Gastotourism where we would be able to support one another.Thanks and God Bless. 
# Valerio Brunetti says :
15 January, 2010 [ 02:49 ]
Dear Friends, I'm italian and I'm looking for Padre Esteban Robledo, who's Prior in the Church 'Nuestra Senora del Carmen' in Chincha. Please, be so kind to infom him I'm looking for news, since I have no information since Xmas 2008. Thanks indeed for your help. best wishes, Val Brunetti
# says :
26 November, 2010 [ 08:34 ]
what is the altitude of Chincha?
# Eric Potts says :
24 February, 2011 [ 12:52 ]
Hi everybody! It's been sense 22 July 2009 when I made my first comment. Would like to go this year during the summer. Reason is: I'm atending school the rest of the year. By the way, when is the best time to go to Chincla, Peru? This way, I could plan my trip more carefully. Thank you.
# Sussan Chang says :
4 March, 2011 [ 10:08 ]
Hi Eric,

To be honest any time would be a good time to go to Chincha. It really depends on what you would like to do.

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