Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Random Encounters with Ancient Cultures

You can’t swing a dead cat around here without hitting some sort of ruin, geoglyph, petroglyph or other mark left behind by some ancient culture that was doing its thing well before Columbus and his asshole buddies barged into the New World uninvited. Last Saturday I worked at a faena, a community cleanup/improvement event, in a town in my district. After the work was done, I was sitting around eating chicharron de chancho (mmmm…. fried pork…) at the Governor’s house when he told me there were ruins up the way from his house. Even though the sun was blazing and it was hotter’n shit out, I wanted to go take a look and the Governor’s son was kind enough to take me. Up the dirt road toward the sierra and around the bend were the ruins of rock walls of an ancient pueblo perched on the side of the hill.

Earlier in the week, I went for a run up the sierra separating Rio Grande and Palpa and along the flat pampa toward Pinchango, the tallest mountain in my department (state). As I was running along the pampa, I noticed that there were ruins of rock walls of what looked to be houses. Outside some of the houses were flat rocks that I assume the ancient folk used as surface to crush corn and whatever else with round river rocks. My reason for thinking this is my host mother has one of these out back of the house where she periodically crushes up various ingredients to make a tasty cheese sauce and potato dish called Papas a la Huancaina.

Last week my site mate and I went over to visit a little pueblo in her district and walked up the sierra to the pampa. Again, Nazca lines all over the place. You couldn’t tell what they were but it was still pretty cool walking with the neighborhood kids, eating mangoes and enjoying the cool evening breeze on geoglyphs created just after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Yesterday, a 3rd year volunteer and I went walking down the ways a bit from my town and found a geoglyph called El Tumi on the side of a hill. El Tumi was a pre-Columbian ceremonial knife that some folks say were used to cut the necks of prisoners.

Nazca, which is about 45 minutes south of me, gets all the tourists (and their dollars) but there’s some pretty cool shit right here in my 'hood.

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