A Stir The Pots Post

Cisne(Virgin of the Swans)

by | Jan 15, 2007 | Road trip

Having survived a delicate situation of narrow minded 1st worlder by taking part in the national dish, which could also be mistaken for a pet! We set back out on the road to visit a virgin! I try hard from pissing off too many people, because when it comes to religion I have been known to make some commentary, not out of any disrespect mind you. I come from a mixed religion family, Jewish and catholic,neither of those religions were forced upon my young mind so I didn’t have to choose which was the "true" religion.My religion is humanistic and I like it better when I can pray for my next great meal a glass of wine or a fine looking women passing my path.
So as not to wander off subject let’s continue… Burping up the lunch and floating through cloud filled mountains again our driver started off at a quick pace at frightening speeds up and down till we reached the first of many roadside monuments to theCimg0180 Virgin de Cisne, where is said she made water appear miracle!Some little kids were trying to sell us recycled bottles to collect holy water from a grotto, my wife splashed some on my face as I snapped some pics, the children hanging off the sides eyeing me down,There parents trying to sell some chifles they sold on the side of the road for the devoted and hungry.As we got closer to the town the high mountains  the contrasting vista made my wonder about both the indigenous people and the Spanish invaders amazing accomplishments  as well a pretty hairy set of cojones to have destroyed an empire so vast.I had read about the messengers in the Inca empire crossing long distances by foot over these same ominous mountains, hell I was dizzy as a passenger on a paved road. Imagine them, with maybe some of that guarapo coca leaf drink my brother-inlaw got his hands on from that shaman back in Vilcabamba !Then those buggers from extremadura making there way on horses ,mules with there harquebus’s and swords.My mind was brought back to reality from the oohs and aaahs of the devoted fellow travelers buying candles from some local kid, I declined my brother-inlaws offer of a candle.We drove into this high mountain village where this sort of weird wood and plaster church that reminded me of high Cimg0181 German rococo that I knew well from trips to where my father lived in Allgau. What a bizzare scene, in front of this somewhat broken down looking stainglassed temple,were beggars in the entrance and a myriad of icon,bric-a-brac sellers.It reminded me of the story of JC in Jerusalem chasing away the money lenders, all this was even stranger in so high a place  and suddenly noticing as if the only foreigner in sight some  Quechua speakers conversing in their ancient tongue. We entered the chapel passing some people begging for alms, the inside seemed even poorer than the chuches in Loja, the congregation was being called together for a mass."Exit stage left for me", I sat out on the steps taking in some equatorial sun on my already burned head! Pachama was giving me her blessing I hoped? I wondered aloud to myself as my wife who had purchased some icongraphy, with literature regarding the "big" haired virgin was reading out the history of and names of the devoted including Simon Bolivar.Being somewhat leary I proposed that the founding of the virgin in 1594, was simultaneous with that of conquest in these parts. Most of the former Incan sites were destroyed throughout the empire, the stones re-used to build the temples of their christain overlords to dissuade them from practicing there own cultural beliefs. I waited around for my fellow travelers as they bought some sweets and icons,there I met some native animals, llamas, guanacos,vicunas being led by a little boy who was trying to kiss each of the animals till his father scolded him!

The air was cooling and we started to descend the mountain again,snacking on peanut candies.Following the same road down the mountain to Catamayo
then back through to our hotel and some tamal Lojano till our next adventure the next day to Zaruma.


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