Tarma is the flower capital of Peru and the world capital of "alfombras de flores" (flower carpets), created during "Semana Santa" (Holy Week) leading up to Easter. So how do you make a flower carpet? Here are the steps, in case you want to do this for a Family Home Evening.
1. Get a plan (a drawing), get a site on the street in downtown Tarma (you could do it on your back patio), string off your area so no one will walk across your carpet, and draw the image in chalk:
2. Mix up a slurry paste of coffee grounds (you can use Postum) to make dividing lines:
3. "Draw" the coffee paste along the chalk lines, building up the paste to a height of about a half inch:
4. Buy colorful flower petals from "campesinas" (women from the countryside) who pull the petals off the stems of their flowers:
5. Get some green leaves from other "campesinas" and their families:
6. Fill in the space outlined by the coffee paste with the colorful petals:
7. Mix different colored petals to get special effects and shading:
8. Keep your team of workers organized so you meet the 6:00 pm deadline for completing your carpet:
9. Keep filling in your drawing with flower petals and green leaves:
10. If you run out of petals or leaves, buy more from the people sitting on the nearby sidewalks:
11. Use other plants, such as bean pods shown below, for special effects:
12. Enjoy your completed masterpiece. This amazing flower carpet shows campesinas wearing their typical white sombreros and selling their flowers on the outskirts of Tarma:
13. Wait until evening for the procession celebrating Holy Week to come by and walk across your flower carpet, completely destroying it (this is a picture of men carrying a replica of the Virgin Mary and walking across the very flower carpet shown above):
Various religious, social, and business groups start their carpets at about 2:00 pm, and finish them around 6:00 pm. If their flower carpets are in the "Plaza de Armas" (Main Square), they get trampled and ruined by around 9:00 pm. If their flower carpet is located along the side streets, it may take until 2:00 am before the procession ruins their carpet.
We'll show more pictures of Semana Santa in the next blog.