Story

The Ñacacho in the pass through the sacred mountain of Salkantay

Our oral traditions tell us that one day a muleteer with 4 mules who traveled with his wife was taking tourists along the route of Soraypampa. This route connects with the citadel of Machu Picchu. On his way back home at dusk and with the mules unloaded, he passed by the place called Machayhuayco (Quechua name that means cave that scares). It is near the pass over Salqantay that goes up to 4, 600 meterz above sea level.

They were with a Ñacacho (person that takes the human fat to sell it). This Ñacacho fell madly in love with the wife the muleteer, because she was a very beautiful woman with black eyes and long hair. The wife was totally frightened and paralyzed by fear.

Ñacacho (By Fernando Delgado Aguirre)
Ñacacho (By Fernando Delgado Aguirre)

At that moment, the Ñacacho said to the man, “if you want to live you have to leave me your wife. Only this way you will be free.”

The very sad man approached his wife and said, “if I obey him he will kill both of us, and our children will be left alone and helpless, I will return for you, my love.” Then the weeping man told the Ñacacho that he would leave his wife. He took three mules and departed.

The Ñacacho made a white mule stay behind. He grabbed the woman by the arm and took her to his cave while mounted on the mule. It was very dark. The cave was inside a rocky formation of the mountain. Inside it were pots, spoons and a canteen (container made of a gourd to carry water). There were also animal skins used to sleep. The woman shrewdly said, “prepare the bed. I want to sleep and take off all my clothes, which is how I sleep with my husband.”

The Ñacacho, totally in love, paid attention to the woman and set out to arrange the skins for sleep. Meanwhile the woman with a knife made hollow at the base of the vessel in which the water was brought. When the Ñacacho was ready and waiting for the woman, she told him, “I am very thirsty and before sleeping I would like to drink some water.”

He took the gourd and left for the creek without clothes to fulfill the wishes of the woman he loved. He had not realized that the canteen had a hole and it was not filled.

Meanwhile the woman took some blankets and fled the place, because of the darkness she could not go far.

The Ñacacho tried to fill the canteen with water. It took a long time. When he realized that the gourd had a hole in it, he hurried angrily back to the cave, but in the darkness he stumbled and fell off a crag. And, due to the cold, he appeared frozen and dead the next day.

At dawn, the woman began to look for the road to take her home, It was then that he saw the dead Ñacacho, naked and frozen. As a result, she decided to return to the cave to bring the Mule. Once inside the cave, she looked among the things the man had and surprisingly found a leather bag full of money. She took it gladly, got on her mule, and returned to her house.

When her husband came down from the mountain and saw her in the distance he ran crying. He hugged her so hard and asked her pardon for leaving her. She told him what had happened to the Ñacacho and with the money she and her family lived happily.

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