This Owl receives mail from his young readers. ‘Owl, we are going to Marcahuasi for Holy Week, tell us about your camps…’. I couldn’t help but enter the time tunnel. 1980. This columnist was a cachimbo from San Marcos when he arrived at this impressive forest of granite stones that is located 4 thousand meters high, in the picturesque town of the peasant community of San Pedro de Casta, in the province of Huarochirí.
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At that time it was not so easy to get there. You had to get up early to go from Lima to Chosica. Dilapidated trucks or buses started from there, advancing along a tortuous track that took hours to San Pedro de Casta. We were traveling together with live chickens and sacks of rice, sugar and onions.
That time we made a serious mistake. They told us: travel rested, do not wake up because the road is rough. But we disobeyed the recommendation, because we woke up at Pablito Concha’s house. It was his birthday and, like a good cusqueño, he threw his house out the window with food and liquor, and as a ‘ticket’ we went to take the Lima-Chosica bus.
We slept the whole trip to San Pedro de Casta. Our tight pockets were only enough to pay for a donkey to carry our rucksacks, but the two-hour climb on foot ‘the short way’ killed us. Adriana, one of our friends, rebelled halfway and sat on a stone and cried out: An ambulance! Incredible request, if the road with just enough was for the passage of a burrito.
That’s how complicated the ‘short way’ was. Those who had coins could even rent horses, but we, San Marcos with ‘few bullets’, went up on foot. It was worth so much effort. We camp next to the mythical ‘Monument to Humanity’. Wherever you look at it, you see that giant stone statue and you see the face of a man. Another big mistake we made was bringing raw beans with bacon for dinner.. At that temperature of a few degrees the blessed beans were never cooked. In the end we send a ‘chaski’, Tino, the athlete of the group, to bring cans of tuna from the town.
It was at the campfire where we finished two demijohns of pisco that passed as if nothing happened due to the sub-zero cold, when in the mixed spot, where the beautiful Conchito, the sensual Martha and the chubby Magaly were, among others, the request was heard from all lung of the last: I want a man! Several wanted to sign up, but the girls took her to the tent.
The Owl remembers that in 1988 the ‘Concert for Peace’ was organized in the Marcahuasi amphitheater
That trip was unforgettable because we toured the plateau identifying ‘The valley of the seals’, ‘El sapito’ or ‘La vicuña’, sculpted in stone God knows in what era. One stood on the edge of Marcahuasi and could ‘touch the clouds’. We felt like in heaven. At night we looked at the immense blue covered by thousands of stars and there we saw a shooting star and immediately we made a wish.
My second trip to Marcahuasi was more amazing. In 1988 the outstanding musician Arturo Ruiz del Pozo, at the height of the insane terrorism of Sendero Luminoso, organized the ‘Concert for Peace’ in the Marcahuasi amphitheater. There, at an altitude of 4,000 meters, he premiered his ‘Symphony to Marcahuasi’.
Manongo Mujica and the mythical ‘Chocolate’ Algendones on percussion arrived at the place. It was an amazing concert. 5,000 people packed the ‘amphitheatre’ in a presentation that is among the world records for the height at which it took place. The incredible thing is that parallel to the mega-concert, another hitherto unknown group also performed their ‘caleta’ performance in the camps that wanted to listen to them, in exchange for a good drink.
The group called itself ‘Baja Policia’. The vocalist, take note, was an unknown Raúl Romero who would later become very popular in the nineties, with his group ‘Los Nosewho y Los Nosecuántos’. Along with Raúl was the future traveling journalist from Caretas and Somos, Álvaro ‘Caníbal’ Rocha on drums and Ato Bouroncle on bass. They warmed up the cold nights with their hilarious songs that would later be included in the remarkable first album of the Romero group, such as ‘Pacharaca’ and ‘Aló Gisela’, compositions by ‘Caníbal’ and Ato. But that is another story. I turn off the television.
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