Hidden treasures in plain sight in Lima: Manuel Pariachi

Strolling through downtown Lima in the afternoon, the din of traffic was drown out by a piercing melody and alluring rhythm from a finger picked steel string guitar.

It was live music, but sounded so much like a 1920s phonograph, I could have been listening to a folk song  captured by Alan Lomax on an Edison recorder.

Exploring Lima: Using a homemade mic fashioned from an old telephone handset and wire, mounted inside his guitar, Manuel Pariachi, 72, performs a traditional Huayno song from his Andean homeland, HuancayoSitting on a low, aluminum folding stool was  72-year street musician, Manuel Pariachi. His chin was pressed against the guitar, which he sang into like a microphone. It was a microphone, he explained. A salvaged telephone handset mouthpiece was mounted inside the guitar cavity with screws and a piece of bent wire.

A squiggle of wire protruded through a hole on the top side of the instrument, which Pariachi sang into. two white wires ran from another puncture in the back of the guitar, just below the neck, to a makeshift amplifier consisting of a single plastic speaker. That was powered by a motorbike battery inside a tattered backpack.

Improvised mic built into an old guitar

The speaker looked like it had been manufactured sometime in the 1990s, given its design; It clearly had been cheaply produced and was obviously resurrected from a junk heap.

Street music in historic downtown Lima

A plastic collection cup hung with more wire from the guitar’s sound hole. I put a few soles into the cup and stood listening.

Pariachi said the song was from his central Andean homeland, Huancayo. He migrated to Lima 40 years ago, but said he was, and always would be “Huancaíno”  in his heart.

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Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back. While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur's founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007. Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

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