About two weeks ago, I was walking back to my hostel in Arequipa when I saw a group of little boys with water balloons fleeing in my direction from down the street. I continued on and as I got to the corner, I saw a group of three 6-8 year old girls with a bucket of water balloons smiling mischievously at me. I interpreted the smile as “we’re going to ambush those little boys with water balloons,” so I smiled back and continued walking by them. It turned out that in Spanish, that smile actually translates to, “we’re going to completely soak you with water balloons.” When I got back to the hostel still dripping wet, they told me, “Oh yeah. The kids are playing Carnivale. They love to get foreigners.”
A week later, I was walking back to my hostel in Puno, but found that a huge stretch of my hostel’s street was shut down for a Carnivale block party. The kids didn’t have any water balloons, but they did have some sort of aerosol cans which fired a white, soapy-looking spray. I tried to look non-foreign and inconspicuous and managed to make it the 3 blocks back to my hostel without getting attacked.
Two hours later, I went out for drinks with these two German girls who unfortunately looked really foreign. As soon as we stepped out onto the street, a bunch of little kids yelled out, “Gringas!” [“white girls!”] and started chasing us with their spray cans at full blast. There were women on the corner selling cans for ~$1.50 each so we each bought one to defend ourselves and ended up in a full scale war with all the little kids at this block party.
The funny part was you’d get into these standoffs with the little kids where there are like 3 surrounding you and you’d all be pointing your spray cans at each other waiting for somebody to make the first move. You’re both covered in foam, but the little kids stand there not firing like, “Well, I don’t want to escalate this to actually spraying each other…” But then of course you always end up spraying each other and running off.
The real danger were the older women, though. I was minding my own business, spraying a 6 year old Peruvian girl in the face with a can of foam, when all of a sudden I felt a sharp, stinging pain in my ass. I turned around and saw a woman holding a little weapon and smiling. They were these little compressed bags of sand (sort of like stress balls) sitting at the bottom of these long elastic socks, so they’d swing the sock and whip me in the ass with this speeding bag of sand. This happened over and over, but I’d never see it coming, because they always wait until you’re distracted by the little kids.
When we came back from the bar, the kids were still going strong with the spray can wars. Our cans were still mostly full, so when we made it back to our hostel, we gave away our cans to a group of cute little girls who were sitting outside with no cans of their own. They were initially grateful for the cans, but that was quickly replaced by their taste for blood and the realization that we were now defenseless so they chased us back into our hostel, spraying us with our own cans. Adorable Peruvian girls are evil.