Trujillo is the capital of La Libertad region, in the northern coast of Peru. It is also a great place to attend a demonstration of Marinera Norteña and Caballo de paso. (This is a traditional and elegant Peruvian dance, performed in pair, between the lady and the horse that is walking in a very particular way and the rhythm of music). Just outside the city is the Breeder’s Association of Caballo de Paso, offering a show of 45 minutes. Passionate about riding a a big horse lover, I just could’nt miss that !
How to get there ?
Performances take place at the Casa Hacienda Palo Marino on Via Evitamiento of Trujillo, near the site of Chan Chan. At first we wanted to go there by bus. Unfortunately, no one seemed to know the place – we nearly started having a doubt about its existence! Having questioned a dozen of people, we finally found a man who knew where is located the Casa Hacienda. What a happy coincidence, he was a taxi driver !
So here we ended up taking a taxi (for a very reasonable sum, I assure you) to Km 569 of the Panamericana Norte. The “show” takes place throughout the day at 1.30 and 2.45 pm.
The presentation and show
Once arrived, we discover a wide Hacienda lost in the middle of nowhere. The show does not start immediately, we are offered to visit and say good morning to the horses. I am delighted!
When the show starts, we settle under a tree, and to our great surprise, we are the only spectators, so it will be a private show! The speaker proudly begins to explain the origins of the Caballo Peruano de paso, during his explanations several horses and riders come in and make their show.
The speaker talks about the Marinera and its history, being so proud of his culture! It is true that the Marinera and the Peruvian horse were declared National Heritage in 1986. Finally they come in: four horseriders and a two dancers. They are all young volunteers who take the time to live their culture and passion every day. All they parading in front of our eyes, I marvel at this grace, balance and power of the horses.
After 45 minutes, the program ends. The man in charge offers us a photo-shoot with all the troops, and I even got a few laps on one of those beautiful Peruvian horses.
Marinera y caballo de paso : a love story
The Marinera is the Peruvian dance par excellence. It is the result of the mixture of native Spanish and African cultures. They dance in pairs and always in three parts to three different melodies.
The primera (first) is rapid, with small cuts of music, games of seductive glances between the two dancers. After that, the second is very complex, with many feet movements. The Marinera was born in the narrow basement of the capital, this is why the movements are not very large.
Finally, the ultima (last) is the most quiet and languid, the dancer tries one last time to charm his partner with gallantry and loving glances.
There are many different Marineras in the regions of the country, but all of them are danced in a traditional costume. Men, very formal, wear black shoes, pants and a white shirt. The look is of course, accompanied by the hat and pañuelo (one little scarf tied around the neck). Women wear a blouse and skirt. La Marinera Norteña, I mean, the one on the north coast, has the particularity of being danced barefoot! It seems that the most hardened ladies can already walk on broken glass… and it is not uncommon for those dancers to go barefoot in the city to adjust.
When the dancer is on a horse, you call this Caballo de Paso. Only a horse of that particular Peruvian horse race can perform this dance, because it is the only one that is able to learn to walk el paso. This is a very special way to move the front and back legs on the same side at the same time, like an elephant! The step gives a great elegance to the horse and it allows performing complex movements led by the rider.
So for me it seems obvious that everybody is impressed to see the horse circling around the dancer in a kind of courtship. Beautiful! Needless to say, you understand that this show has conquered me and I absolutely recommend it to you during your visit to Northern Peru.