Thursday, September 3, 2009

Juanita the ice princess

So, back in Aereuipa.

I really enjoyed Cabanaconde. On Tuesday I went to see the Condors fly at Cruz del Condor which is an overlook above the cliff where a family of condors live. I took a couple pics but realized that with my little point and shoot I wasn´t going to get anything good and would just waste my time trying to get a photograph instead of enjoying the birds. That´s a fine line always - record or experience. But they really were stunning and they are so so big and majestic. Ugly, but impressive none the less. I think my favorite was the sound the wind made in their wings as they went screaming past on a particularly good current.

I worked the hostel and restaurant and bar for the week which I also really enjoyed. It was good for my pocketbook to live and eat for free for a week and I hope to find more gigs like that one in other towns. I was worried about not wanting to work when I get home, but I found that I really enjoyed having something to do. There were a few days that the owner when out of town and left me in charge and I just got to run it the way I think it should be done without his ideas. The real owner and his Belgian wife are on vacation and have left the hostel in charge of the younger brother and he doesn´t like it and is doing it out of obligation rather than love so he just makes everything harder. I encouraged him to go away for the day many times. He also has a 16 year old wife who is still in High School (he is 29) and the dynamics there are just too strange to even work out. She yells, he cowers, he scolds, she stomps, not a great atmosphere. But also you could see the potential for the place and I found that I am a great waitress and bartender - it´s been so long that I had forgotten. Makes me want to run a hostel someday.

Today I went to the museum where Juanita the ice princess lives. She is a frozen body that they found on the top of one of the mountains here and brought down for investigation. Since 1995 when they found Juanita, they have found a total of 16 sacrificed children on various volcanoes throughout the Inca empire. All of them children, some boys, some girls. Evidence that they were drugged and then their skulls were smashed with a cudgel. There is some evidence that Juanita was chosen at childbirth for this honor. Interesting to imagine what growing up knowing that you were slated to be a gift to the gods would be like. She was between 12-14 when she died. Because she was left on top of the mountain at -20 degrees celcius, her body is perfectly preserved, including her organs and everything. Not a mummy, just a frozen girl. Pretty crazy. Also it made me wonder about removing these kids. The internal struggle about loving to be able to see it and have the information in a museum but also thinking that she willingly hiked to the top of a huge mountain in grass sandels and let them kill her so that she could join the gods and be her people´s spokesperson to the gods of the mountains. There is something that feels to me like it would have been more respectful of that type of courage to let her lie where she chose to die. Like the mummies I saw in Ollantay that the local people there keep hidden from archeologists because they believe that there is a strong tie between the body and the dead spirit and bodies weren´t buried so that the spirits would know where to find them and by putting them in museums, you cut that tie and the spirits then are lost. Yet another thing that I feel strongly both ways about and don´t find an easy answer to.

One of the side notes that I thought was interesting was that when children were born, the mothers saved their umbilical cords and dried them, then when kids got sick they cut a piece off and ground it with water and fed it to their children whom often then survived. Some speculation now about it of course being the stem cells that were curative.

I will be heading out of Aerequipa in the wee hours of the morning for a 12 hour bus ride up to Nazca where the Nazca lines are and a group of skeletons found out in the desert, similar to the pictures I posted earlier of our walk and the mummy caves. They call them mummies here, but I don´t think that is an accurate description in English, as they aren´t mummified per se, but they certainly are more preserved than their 500 year old selves would seem to be without any type of process. Hoping to learn more on that in Nazca.

See you next month!

1 comment:

  1. oh that makes me so sad for the ice princess, i think i'll try to paint her picture tonight. thank you for the inspiration. looking forward to seeing you next month my love.