During the summer of 2011 while visiting Cajamarca, Peru, the city was bustling in preparation for the country’s Presidential candidate, Keiko Fujimori, who would be making a stop to rally for the community’s support, but also celebrate her birthday. Our hotel, Costa del Sol, was located along the Plaza de Armas which gave us front row access to all the festivities happening right outside.
Prior to Keiko’s arrival that evening, we decided to walk around the Plaza and sit with the locals, but to my surprise, we were approached within a few minutes of leaving our hotel asking to take a photo with us. I thought it was strange, but didn’t think too much about it. As nightfall descended and the music and dancing from the front stage started to pick up, I started to feel a bit overcrowded. There were hundreds of people that suddenly appeared out of no where and kept staring at our group. Slowly, I started to pay more attention to what the crowd was saying as they pointed at our group and kept saying “Keiko. Keiko. Keiko.” Crap, then things started to slowly fall into place. I looked up at the signs and photos hanging around the stage and then it hit me. They thought I resembled the presidential candidate. Things started to get a bit freaky for me at that point. I told my group that I would go watch the rest of the festivities and the arrival of the real presidential candidate from the safety of the hotel’s lobby. Yes, you could say I was a scaredy cat, but I have never been in a situation like that before that I didn’t want to risk it.
When Keiko finally did arrive I was blown away, not because she looked just like the photos on stage, but because we were wearing practically the same outfit – t-shirt covered with a vest, sneakers, and dark colored pants. With our Asian eyes and medium cut long hair, I could see why the locals could have easily misidentified me. Just as I was registering all of this, from the comfort of the hotel’s lobby, I was able to enjoy the fireworks display they had prepared to celebrate Keiko’s birthday and political rally. I think I started to fall into a trance for as I watched the fireworks display, images of letters and numbers started to appear in the explosive pyrotechnic art. One thing is for certain, the day sure did end with a bang!