church door

Chanka People and the “Eye of Providence”

This weekend we had the opportunity to visit the small village of Chanta; a little community hidden in the middle of the Peruvian Andes. This little village has given to the world a lot of beautiful people, like our host and guide through this almost lost culture of Chanka people, Dr. Miguel Castañeda Sanchez, the ex president from the Superior Court of Justice from Cusco.
This great descendent from the enemies of the Incas was teaching us the history of this late intermediate ethnic group from Peru, the Chanka People.

He was remembering the times when he was a student in Cusco and for coming back to his little village for the holidays it took him five days of riding; such an effort and dedication that was coming from his roots of the warrior ancestors of Chankas.
We left from Cusco on a Thursday morning and after a four hour trip with spectacular views; we made our first stop in  Abancay, the capital of the Apurimac region. The name of the city comes from the translation from Quechua to Castilian of the word “amánkay” which is the name given to a yellow lily with red streaks, which floods “The Eternal Springtime Valley”, also famous for its year-round warm weather.  We eat a traditional chicken soup in a family restaurant and continue our road trip for the next three hours, following Pachachaca River all the way to 3180m, finally reaching the village of Chanta, Pocohuanca District.


Here we were hit by silence. Time ceases to exist and one can let their being be free to explore the unaltered the natural beauty.  My daughter Carla and I, experienced for three days the beauty of simplicity. We eat cancha, the traditional fried corn from the Andes, we saw how for the whole community the branding of the cows was in fact a communal celebration, with kids, families and of course, the traditional sacred drink, Chicha.


Just a few kilometers away of Chanta we went to visit the village of  Pocohuanca, the capital which give the name of the district. Amazingly we found two old church bells dating from 1577, made from an alloy of gold, silver and copper.  The sound, that vibration that they create, will never stop in my memory.


They were used to announce the people of an attack and that sound when heard, all they run up at the top of the mountain, now the place of an old Chanka ruins.  At the exit, we’ve observed on the church’s big doors, the “Eye of Providence”, a such old renaissance european iconography, expressing Christian Trinity.


We left Sunday in the morning with the sorrow and happiness combined, given by this nice experience and feeling that we get so deep into Peru that we can feel this country’s heartbeat!

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