This last Saturday was the Octave, the eighth day of the feast of Cuzco’s Lord of Huanca. It was the last day to go visit this important holy patron who is located in San Salvador, outside of Cuzco on the edge of the Sacred Valley.
Many people decided to make a pilgrimage to Huanca by walking the path from Cuzco as they do every year. The departure point from which everyone leaves is located on the Plaza of San Jeronimo, a suburban district of Cuzco and ancient town.
The people gathered from 10 pm well covered with jackets and caps. Various people roamed through the crowd selling flashlights, sweets, water, and more. Everyone who went bought everything necessary for their trek and then departed on their walk during the night. The major objective was to arrive at the mountain top.
Along the way there are many puddles and stones that make you stumble and everything is dark. You can only see the small lights of the flashlights that are ahead of you. Everyone climbs the mountain in groups. Those who are behind follow the light of those in front in order to not get lost. After having walked for some two hours, approximately, they reached the highest point on the trail and there found various tens where they could by cups of hot drinks, ponche, and also food.
Their path continues. It gets much colder now, but people continue forward. The path is now flat until people arrive at the town which is about an hour away. When you get to the town you see adobe houses. In some of the houses there are people selling ponche, a local hot drink. They invite you in so that you can warm up by the side of the stove while drinking your cup of ponche that only costs 1 S/. After you have drunk you continue onward on the path of the Lord of Huanca. It gives you energy to be able to reach your goal.
After leaving the town you see an immense grassland with puddles of water. You will spend about two hours crossing this place, while stopping occasionally to rest. Afterwards you reach the descent. It is the last section you have to walk. You go down a mountain side to arrive directly at the church of the Lord of Huanca. It takes an hour to go down this steep slope. People say each time you fall on the path you are making payment for your sins.
You finally reach the end, after a walk of some six hours as a pilgrim. You will see the Church and the Lord surrounded by crowds of people praying and lighting candles.