Two weeks ago my friends and I made a trip through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The valley, as always, was stunning in its majesty, a deep cap in the heart of the mountains with a gleaming river below, the Wilcamayo (Holy River). The mountains seem like arms that reach around and sustain this important valley with its mild climate and filled with irrigated fields seeming like a mosaic of gems.
We traveled by enjoying the spectacular scenery. When the mood hit us we would pause to make some memories. We turned to the south where the valley is with towns along the side every few kilometers. A paradise opened before our eyes. The light of afternoon seemed to kiss the colorful fields of kiwicha, an Andean grain; the plants bent as if an offering for each of the mountain lords, the Apus that hold the valley.
Above us, high up a flank of an imposing Apu we saw the imposing Sanctuary of the Lord of Huanca, an important sacred figure who draws thousands of pilgrims from Cuzco and beyond. While there is a main feast day when the Sanctuary of the hill fills with faithful, but people go there any day of the week to make petitions and cleanse themselves of their sins.
We began climbing the hill and a curvy road. With each bend we saw a different view of the Sacred Valley as if we were looking in a kaleidoscope. At the beginning of the ascent many vendors locate themselves to sell candles to pilgrims so they can light them and make their desires known to the Lord. When we arrived at the the esplanade of the Sanctuary we lost ourselves in the amazing view of the great valley. We stayed for a time just appreciating its beauty.
To our side an enormous church rose. One feels an environment of peace, even though it was not the central day of pilgrimage or even within a few months of it. The small plaza was filled with people, nevertheless. Some were having their newly purchased cars blessed and others were lighting candles in prayer to obtain their wishes. All of them were connected together with so much respect and faith.
People say that when you make a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary it is, in itself, an offering. For us, the moon was full. The Mama Killa, the Lady Moon, accompanied us on our way illuminating our path with its glow. It was relected in the mountains belt.
Any day is a good day to visit the Sanctuary of Huanca. Besides its great importance for our faith as Cuzqueños in this image of Christ affiliated with an outcrop of solid rock, Huanca showed us the enchantments of our landscape. It gave us variety and drew us into it forging a connection like that which for thousands of years has made the people of Cuzco one with the earth.