While we are in Cusco, we are renting an apartment from a local family. Chris and the kids are attending Spanish classes during the week while I am writing my next children’s fantasy book. Pammela and Washington have been amiable landlords during our stay in Cusco. Last week, they were kind enough to invite us over to dinner at their home.
The evening started as is customary from Latin American hospitality. Pammela cooked a delicious meal of Peruvian rice, boiled sweet potatoes, and baked tilapia with lemon-marinated veggies. Their oldest daughter, Vicky, made a wonderful dessert. We all had a chance to practice our Spanish talking to our gracious hosts as Washington signed copies of his books on Inca culture.
Soon, we got much more than we expected. Washington changed into traditional Cusqueno clothing, brought out a wooden bowl, filled it with “palo santo” (holy wood), and lit it on fire right in the middle of their living room! Helen, the youngest daughter, knew exactly what to do. She picked up a rain stick and brought out feathers, drums, and maracas. After turning off the lights, Washington treated us to a traditional Inkan ritual to honor the Earth Mother, Pachamama. In the firelight, he told us the story of the Inka hunter:
The Inka only hunts when it is necessary to feed his family. He dips the arrow destined for the kill in his own blood before discharging it, to share the pain of death with the animal and to show appreciation for its sacrifice.
After the ritual was complete, we all sat on the floor around the holy fire, and Washington asked us to express our feelings to the Earth Mother. Tristan summed it up for all of us when he said, “I feel very lucky”. Axo Pachamama! Bless the Earth Mother!