Culture, Customs

Gold and Puma Cocha Lake

The city of Cusco, Peru, has a large number of cochas (small lakes). Of course, each of them has its own name. They have different uses depending on the needs of people around them. For example, Piuray lake supplies water to the city of Cusco. Others serve as breeding grounds for trout and king fish. And, others have chilling stories such that almost no person dares to go by them.

These lakes hold great secrets. It is said that much treasure is hidden in the deepest and they are guarded by sirenas, strange creatures that are a bit like mermaids.

We do not know about these lakes, only that they bring death and misfortune to those who try to look for their treasures.

As the story goes, not far from the sacred valley of the Incas there is a cocha (lake) called Puma Cocha, Cougar Lake. Under a full moon indescribable activities take place there.

Puma Cocha Lake
Puma Cocha Lake

One time, a man and his donkey carrying salt passed to one side of the lake. The sky was cloudy and the clock read 5:40 p.m. The man had not realized how late it was.

Suddenly, on the lake’s shore a large, golden fish appeared, moving abruptly and causing great dismay. It was living gold for the person who could cover it with a blanket and then take the booty. But he couldn’t. The fish was too big.

All the commotion caused waves of great size that ended up claiming the man and his donkey. The news that the lake had swallowed him was sad indeed. Still, somehow is donkey escaped and fled the place.

This was not the only story. After many months, as the adults kept talking about the gold hidden in the lake, a 15-year old, without much thought, ran to the lake to try his luck. When he arrived at the lake’s shore, luck was with him. The lake was calm and on its shores he saw many scattered coins. He ran to gather them. There were more than two hundred soles there, about seventy dollars in coins of two and five soles.

Still, it was getting late and he began to feel his feet become heavy. The lake wanted to claim him. His relatives had to come to the lake and make payments, offerings, to it for him to be freed.

Many other stories like these are told about Puma Cocha. In some cases, the people left without any treasure, and in others they paid with their lives. Puma Cocha still keeps its secrets and lies in wait to tempt un-cautious travelers.

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