The Witch of the Andes (Achkay)
One of the stories that parents tell their children more than others in the Andes is that of ACHKAY. She is witch who roams the mountains next to her faithful servant in search of small children in order to eat them.
Each family has a different version of the story of this witch, but what they all agree on is that the main characters are children and that this witch intends to eat them.
The story begins when two little children, a girl and her brother, are playing near their house in the mountains. In the afternoon, their parents asked them to go get their animals that were grazing in the fields. The children searched and searched, but did not find their animals. They were worried and scared since it was almost night and decided to return home.
On the way back to their house they came across a beautiful hut where a woman was sitting. When she saw the children alone, she asked them: “Poor children, where do they go at this time of day?”. They replied, “we are looking for to our little animals that hung in the fields, have you seen them?”. She said, “yes, of course, little ones. A while ago, I saw a few of them up there on the hill. To be able to distract them from their search, the women told them in a sweet voice: It’s getting late. You must be very hungry. Why don’t you come into my house and have something to eat.
The children accepted the invitation and went to this woman’s house. They went directly to the kitchen where the maid was cooking some boiled potatoes. After eating, the children got up from the table so they could go back home, but the woman told them not to leave because it was already night and something could happen to them on the way home. The children agreed to stay that night.
Once the children accepted the woman’s offer, she ordered her maid to make up beds for them to sleep on. The woman said to them, “you, pretty girl are going to sleep in this bed and your little brother will sleep with me in the other bed so that he does not feel lonely”.
At midnight the boy cried out desperately. His sister heard and said, “what are you doing to my little brother?” “Your little brother has a lot of head lice and I’m taking them out.” The somewhat worried girl went back to sleep.
The next day the maid sent the girl to bring water from the well. Worriedabout her little brother the girl asked, “where is my little brother?” “He is still sleeping, so hurry and bring the water so we can have breakfast.
When the girl returned she asked again about her little brother and was told that he went to bring wood from the forest. The girl entered the kitchen and saw that something was boiling in a pot. She lifted the lid and was shocked to see her brother’s body. She fled, scared of the hut. Seeing this, the woman was very upset and went after the girl shouting, “don’t leave. I won’t hurt you”.
The girl ran but had to stop at a dead end where there was a rope to climb. Without checking the rope, the girl began to climb, but behind her came the woman. When they reached a certain height the woman was about to catch her but instead slipped and died.
The girl continued to climb until she reached heaven. There she entered the house of God, saw many angels surrounding the Lord. Among them was her little brother. She was filled with great joy and told him to go home. God told her that only she could return, but so that she would not feel alone, he would give her a puppy that would keep her company. The girl was sad about what happened to her little brother but began to descend from heaven in the company of the dog that God had given her.
When they reached the earth, the two stayed in a house they found at the end of the rope. There they spent the night. The next day the girl woke up but did not find the puppy. She looked around and realized that the house was full of jewels and riches.
After a while the girl returned home and told her parents what happened. She forgot that she had been sent to look for the family’s animals.