Tambillo Treasures & Peruvian Time
Before I left for Peru, a friend of mine put me in contact with a woman who lives in Cusco. She is originally from Tampa, but she is 100% Cusqueña :). She has been a guiding light for me here in Cusco. She has introduced me to a local Peruvian Tribal Fusion band named “Amaru Pumac Kuntur” (who actually just made it to the finals of Peru Tiene Talento!!!!) which I’ll explain the meaning of later. She has shown me around Cusco city and has acted as my Spanish/Quechua dictionary. By knowing her, I am getting deeper into the heart of Cusco more than I ever would in just four months.
Today I went to Tambillo with Lisa for her friend’s birthday party. It was about a 20-minute taxi ride up the winding mountain road until we came to a long dirt road. Looking down into the valley, the city of Cusco looked like thousands of scattered Monopoly-houses.
The wind and the sun blinded us.
We arrived at the home of Lisa’s friend. In the back, there was a sweat lodge in the process of construction where everyone was sitting and enjoying food. A circular stone-structure with remnants of cloth overlaying in a tipi. There were just a few of us, and I already felt like I was one of the family friends they had known their entire life.
The Peruvian way of life is much more inviting. Strangers are simply friends you haven’t seen in a while. It seems like everyone’s got some catching up to do. No one is made to feel like an outsider here–simply another piece of the puzzle. Even the neighbor’s dog came over and was welcomed with chicken bones, chomping down until there was nothing left.
Everything is slower here. I’ve heard talk about being on “Peruvian Time”, and it’s actually true. Time works in different ways here. There is no rush to do anything and trying to make plans will just cause you frustration and chaos. There is an emphasis on enjoying the present moment rather than sticking to the routine schedule. America–take lessons, please. There is hardly any rush to do things here, and things still get done. This has been a total process of surrendering for me. Having to take public transportation multiple times a day has taught me how to let go of control–there are some things not worth stressing out over, and it’s important to learn how much control of a situation you really have (and you’ll probably find, surprisingly enough to your mind, that it’s not much).
After we left the party, we walked a little way up the path to a place called Amaru Machay. Amaru means snake in Quechua (the original language/language of the Incas). In Inca tradition, there are three worlds: Amaru, Pumac, Kuntur. These are the worlds of the snake, puma, and the condor. The Snake is the internal, subconscious world. The Puma represents the world right here before us: kaypacha. The Condor represents the higher world.
Amaru Machay is also called Templo de la Luna. It is a pre-Inca archaeological site. It is considered to be the womb of Pachamama (mother Earth). It is carved inside of a rocky hill. The opening is in the shape of a vulva. Inside the opening directly to the right, there is a petrified snake and above that there is a carving of a larger snake. A crack of skylight leaks in from up above and shines onto a flat altar which is big enough to stand on. We weren’t allowed to wear shoes inside so I was barefoot. I felt charged standing upon the altar–pathways in my feet opening up and releasing tension. This is a very sacred place. Lisa told me stories after we had left (thankfully) of dark magic being performed there. People have been lured up there and killed. Decapitated bodies. Dead children. I guess there is darkness to every light. In any event, there was such a palpable spiritual/magical energy to it that is incomparable.
Peru is a mystery I’m not sure I’ll ever get tired of unfolding.