A Story! A Story! I expected to hear those words from my children, but not from college students. They were visiting me and asked that I tell them tales. I laughed and thought how we all love a good story.
Cusco Eats has decided to write the stories of Cusco and the surrounding areas. They have been made up into a book that we are hoping will be ready for Christmas delivery.
“Cusco carries within it stories and passions unseen by most outsiders. Women dress in hats and bright skirts and stand by llamas for tourists to take pictures” but few people take the time to hear the stories. Many travel from far away and may know the stories of Baba Yaga or gnomes and trolls. The book is a chance to read about beings that dance on the tongues of tellers in the areas of Cusco.
These are stories that have been repeated in the streets or have been heard at home. The stories of Cusco are tales of legends, replete with Inca princes and princesses, fairies and demons.
How could anyone resist a story about why the rainbow has seven colors? It seems:one day the Lady Moon (mamakilla) came down from the sky (hanaq pacha). She was looking for a good man with a noble heart who she could marry. She knocked on the door of the man’s hut and out came the father. Lady Moon spoke with him and explained her desires. Since he was very noble he introduced her to his first son.
The story continues as do others about toads and trolls. Why do toads croak at night? There are also stories of the fox and his mischief. The fox stories are an important part of Peruvian culture, especially around Cusco, as they are instructional, explanative as well as entertaining.
“The mountains are the cradle of foxes whose nature is to be sneaky and vain. As a result, from time immemorial in Cusco the fox has been well known and respected. One day a goose and her goslings were walking close to a lake. As always the mother goose was keeping careful watch over her children. She taught them to swim and to find food. Close by a mother fox was in her home. She saw the beautiful goslings with their white feathers and their feet that were very red”
Already you want to know what the fox has decided to do next.
Not all of the stories are sweet. Some talk of treasure hunters who seek Inca gold, and some are concerned with condenados who stalk people to eat them. There are stories that leave us wondering:
On a different day two men who had been drinking were returning home when one of them fell against a wall while the other continued. Something terrifying was waiting for them. The man who had less to drink got up and looked at his friend. He saw a flaming chariot drawn by flaming horses carry his friend away. The man who stayed behind was perplexed and frightened from what he saw, though nothing happened to him.
Some of the stories recount the travails of mining or explain things that tourist seldom understand – like why there are bulls on the roofs of houses.
A peak into local words, like a little spice on the tongue, to tantalize and give flavor is also included. The working title is “A Q’ipi of Stories” because as David Knowlton explains in the first tale “a traveler goes with stories on his waist and on his shoulders”. These are the stories with which we learn to know the world.
We hope you will enjoy the collection.