The village of Maca, Peru

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Approaching the village of Maca. Pretty sure most of the town fits in the frame.

Between the visit to the Colca Canyon condors and a late lunch in Chivay, we made a half hour stop at the village of Maca, Peru. It’s small. There’s not much to see there, except their rather impressive old church.

The town square includes several painted sculptures.

I found this Washington Post article about the area:

After the Spanish conquered the Colca Valley in the 16th century and grouped its scattered residents into 24 towns (17 of which survive today), the outside world left it alone for another 400 years. The region came to international attention only thanks to a National Geographic expedition led by Robert Shippee and George Johnson, whose 1934 article about it was headlined “A Forgotten Valley of Peru.”

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the area got a major road connecting it to Arequipa, Peru’s second-largest city, 100 miles away. Previously there had been little contact with the rest of the country, with goods transported by mule or slow truck. Today, it’s a stunning four-hour drive from the city, past bare volcanic plateaus and snow-capped peaks. At 13,800 feet, a cafe serves fresh coca tea for altitude sickness. Most of the area is a preserve for vicunas, graceful, long-necked animals related to llamas, which graze on the parched grass near the road. The land becomes greener as you descend into Chivay, the regional capital in the south of the valley.

It’s hard to imagine that the valley once needed such large churches, or so many of them. The roughly 70,000 people who lived here at the time of the Spanish conquest could have filled them, but the structures clearly demonstrated power as much as religion. Initially covered with murals, they grew almost oppressively Baroque as the empire became richer. In the restored church in Maca, for instance, a massive gold altar glints with mirrors. To Inca farmers, the churches must have looked like spaceships.”

This is apparently a scene from a local dance where the wife carries her husband. No idea why he’s wearing a mask.

Depiction from another local dance

This is clearly the center of town–the restored church.
Inside, there is an amazing amount of what appears to be real gold. Also mirrors. There isn’t much electric light, so I suppose the mirrors help with illumination. Or let you fix your hair and make up.

Just in front of the church’s door, you can see the mountains surround village.
…but tourism is the draw here.

You can even buy—or rent for a photo–this traditional costume.
For a sole, you take a photo with a baby alpaca.
And there’s that volcano, again.
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Beth

I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

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