I walked rapidly, because I was hungry, to the San Pedro Market, four blocks from Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas, its Main Square.
When you buy a meal you can expect the caseras, the vendors, to share stories and anecdotes from all over with you no matter where you come from.
This market is very popular with local people and among them you find the largest part of the daily demand, although other people come as well. People come for the dishes that the caseras serve up both inside and outside the market. The Tupac Amaru Avenue run by the side of this important market that supplies so many people. Every day you will find it full of people.
I was enjoying a delicious plate of llullujaucha when I began to converse with the casera about the pilgrimage to the Lord of Quyllur Rit’I. I was fascinated with the place and wanted to know it and maybe take the pilgrimage.
The casera told me that it was very cold up there. Then she shared with me an incredible story about the condenados, the condemned ones, who suffer up on those high, snowy peaks.
“I remember when I was a child my father would frighten me when ever I was bad. He told me that the sneaky and bad girls would have the condenados appear to them while they were making the pilgrimage to the Lord of Quyllur Rit’i.The condenados would carry them away crying. My father was very devout and always took us up for the main day.”
With a sly smile she asked me if I had behaved myself. Then she said that her husband, with whom she had two children, is from the community of Sinaqara which I on the flanks of the snowy mountain of the Lord of Quyllur Rit’i.
He husband told that in the night while the whole community slept you could hear the condenados crying out in suffering. They drag what sound like cans or chains. They walk down the streets of the town and carry away the fattest alpacas or they just kill them and leave them dead in the midst of the other alpacas.
The community members from the zone know all of this and in order to not lose their animals they get together as families. They leave on their doorsteps some año tubers that have been well sunned so they are tasty. When the condenados go through the herds of alpacas they will find the año on the doors and will eat if and in this way not attack the animals. They eat, instead, the merienda, the snack.”
“Azu”, I said, “wow!. I was very impressed with her story.
I finished my meal and left thinking about her tale. It would not leave my mind and I found myself wanting to know the place and be able to converse with its people.