It was another New Year’s Eve.

My parents left around 10 p.m. They looked happy. They were laughing and celebrating already, waving goodbye from the car. We were waving goodbye from the house’s balcony.

They were going to their traditional party at  Club Rinconada and we knew waht that meant: They would stay dancing all night by the pool, to the music of some famous band. They would receive the New Year drinking champagne, yelling ¡Feliz año! surrounded by friends.

And we would stay there, every year in the same balcony, looking towards the horizon, waiting for the usual events :

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..


The sound of  fireworks (cuetes, ratablancas, rascadores, etc.) would interrupt the usual darkness in Lima, when welcoming the new year.

Immediately, we climbed the staircase to the house’s roof, and we stayed over there, fixing our eyes as far as we could,  trying to find out how big was the darkness covering Lima…

Sometimes,  we could still see the light and hear the violent noise made by some new explosions: Somewhere in the mountains surrounding Lima, the designated soldiers of the  Shining Path would use dinamite to bomb as many as possible of the towers that carried the electricity to the capital. The Shining Path-and his leader: Abimael- loved to remind us of the war they were fighting against the government, not too far away from Lima.

We stayed asleep until everything looked dark and calm, and then we went to bed.

Some yearsa maid was in charge, she made sure that we were sleeping. Sometimes it was a cousin who lived nearby and came to stay for a while with us. I was maybe 11, my brother 10 and my sister 7. We knew that Rinconada had a generator and that a total blackout was not going to ruin my parent’s wish to celebrate. They worked very hard the whole year. My father had 2 jobs during the weekdays and was starting a business with my mother’s olive trees during the weekends. We were very excited to see them staying out all night.

The next morning I was awake very early. I loved to be the first to see their white Toyota station wagon from the house’s balcony. Sometimes my dad honked loudly.  He opened the door,  my mom looking sleepy but smiling, still wearing the yellow hat and making noise with the pitos and matracas from Rinconada. They usually had breakfast with aguadito at 5 inthe morning, danced a little bit more and were some of the last ones to leave.

After their arrival, I used to go outside, to the silent street during the first hours of the new year. I liked to search in the front yard of my neighbors for cuetecillos that hadn’t explode. I got matches and make the cuetecillos explode on the sidewalk, just to make some noise. My mom and dad gave us then a big hug ( I don´t know where did they get the energy), and offered us to get ready to go out to have some breakfast, to celebrate together the arrival of the New Year.

The streets were quiet and I was extremely happy.