Beauty pageants are weird. But I kind of like them.

I’ve been to two “Miss” competitions in Tarapoto: Miss San Martin 2010 and last weekend’s Miss Teen Tarapoto 2011. The latter was taking place just a few blocks from my house, so I thought I’d take a peek.

Peruvian Time

Miss Teen Tarapoto was supposed to start at 8 pm, which by Peruvian standards translates to 9 pm at the very earliest. Unsurprisingly, my attempts at being late fell way short of the mark. I arrived at about 9.30; an excellent local rock band called Mermelada Pesada was in full swing, but there were no Miss Teens in sight. As it turned out, I had to wait at least another hour for the main event to begin. Typical.

Miss Teen’s Take to the Stage

Finally, at about 11 pm, the eight Miss Teen Tarapoto candidates took to the stage…


The blur of whiteness that followed caught me off guard. Due to some strange quirk of physics, beauty contestants are incredibly hard to photograph, at least for a novice such as myself. The mix of stage lighting and bounding beauties is not conducive to crisp photography. Oh well.


The Teens dropped the pace a little for the obligatory bikini round, perhaps due to the drop in temperature. By Tarapoto standards, it was quite a chilly night. You certainly won’t see me strolling through the streets of Tarapoto in a bikini at 11 pm, not even on a Saturday night (not sober, at least).


The event flew by in no time at all, much faster than the Miss San Martin contest. After the bikini round came the “questions” round. “Who do you most admire?” — “Is the environment important?” — “Should children go to school?” It was all very enlightening, but it was over in a flash. After two hours of waiting and 30 minutes of contest, we had our winner and runner-up….



And there they stand! To the right is the newly crowned Miss Teen Tarapoto 2011, 16-year-old Nicolle Arce Saldaña. To the left is the second-placed Danae Ruiz Arévalo, also 16. Well done ladies! Nicolle now has a chance to become Miss Teen Peru.

Right, that’s all for now, although I do have more photos and a couple of videos that I might publish in the near future. I don’t have much time right now, however, as tonight is the big one: Miss San Martin 2011. I need to blag a press pass…