I have decided to start a series of blogs on some of the surrounding sites and towns, since moving to Huarocondo we have been trying to educate ourselves in the local lore and history. While there is a lot of information already available on-line for the major sites like Ollantaytambo, there is far less available information on some of the smaller sites we have discovered, such as Urco or even our home town of Huarocondo, so I would like to share some of what we have learned.
For my first installment I have chosen to concentrate on our local area. Since moving to Huarocondo and opening up GringoWasi back in 2012, we have learned a little about the town and surrounding area that I would like to share. There are a few points of interest in the area, aside from Huarocondo; there is another small town to the South West called Zurite, as well as some terraces. There is also an archeological site called Wata towards the North West and the largest lake in the Cusco region is to the North East.
Our town of Huarocondo sits in a small agricultural valley where the locals grow a wide variety of produce including many varieties of potato, Chocklo which is the large Peruvian corn, Abas (fava bean), and Quinoa to name a few things, there is also a large farm at the south end of the valley, where a Chilean company grows artichoke for export. While some farmers now use tractors, during the spring and fall you can often time still see local farmers out plowing their fields with bulls and wood plows. Besides being the home of GringoWasi, Huarocondo is the folkloric capital of the Anta region and is also known for its Lechon, which is pork that is slow roasted in large adobe ovens.
Huarocondo hosts many festivals like the festival of lechon on November 1st, the town’s anniversary on November 14th, and the largest festival we have seen, the Virgin del Carmen, which is held on July 15th and lasts for a full 5 days. Huarocondo also has an amazing church considering its small size of approximately 2,000 people; this 17th century temple is dedicated to Our lady of Mount Carmel, and sits adjacent to the main plaza, it is regularly open for visitors. A few things of note in the temple are the 3 different layers of paint that have been found on the walls, which can be seen on the wall opposite the main entrance. Additionally the large paintings hanging on the walls of the church are said to be some of the best in the Cusco region.
The town of Zurite is located approximately 7.3 km to the South West and is another small Andean town. This area not only has lots of farmland but also large pastures where you can see cattle out grazing and purchase fresh local cheese. Like Huarocondo, Zurite also has a 17th century church; this one built in honor of Saint Nicholas of Bari whose celebration takes place on December 6. Within the church you will find a large cross set over a stone base, and close inspection of the stone base will reveal different figures and carvings made by the Inca’s. As is typical of the Spanish construction in the Cusco region, Incan stone was used as a base material for many of their constructions.
Located approximately 5.6 km to the South West of Huarocondo, and 1.7 km North East from Zurite, sits the Andenes Zurite, a large set of Incan terraces that may be some of the largest in Cusco, if not the whole Andean region. Some of these terraces are a kilometer long, one hundred meters wide and three meters tall, the road from Huarocondo to Zurite actually crosses on one of the terraces. These terraces were for agriculture and have the typical Incan stone steps built into them, they have also been in almost continuous use since the Inca times. Towards the top of the terraces you will find the Hacienda Andeneria, which is a 17th century Spanish style home where the Paliza family lived and worked the land until the Agrarian Reform. During this period the National Institute of Agrarian Research (INIA), took control of the land and uses it for agricultural research and testing.
This is one site that I cannot find much information about on-line, and to be honest, we have not made it there yet as the road that the trail starts on is currently under construction. From what I have been able to find out, the site is Incan and sits on the top of a hill. The trail to it begins roughly 5.5 km to our north and from there the site is about a 2 hour walk, locals have told us about an hour and a half, but most people don’t move as fast as they do. I do hope to get there later this year or next year at the latest, if they finish the road, and will do a blog specifically about it then.
Lake Huaypo which is located approximately 11.5 km to our North East has several legends and myths surrounding it. The first has to do with the church in Cusco, and says that during the transportation of the bells for the Church in Cusco, one of the bells fell off the truck as it passed the lake. The bell then rolled in to the lake and was never recovered; the locals say that some nights they can hear the bell ringing at the bottom of the lake. The second legend is centered on UFO’s as Lake Huaypo is said to be a hot spot for UFO activity. Objects or craft are occasionally seen entering and leaving the lake accompanied by strange sounds. Below are links to two different reports on incidents that happened around Lake Huaypo for those interested in further reading.
So that is a little info on our town of Huarocondo and the surrounding area, hope you enjoyed the read and keep an eye out for further posts on more of the sites around Cusco.