Cajamarca, Past and Present

by admin on August 20, 2009

One of the most interesting stories about the Spanish Conquest in Peru is the tale of the conquerers’ interactions with Inca brothers Huascar and Atahualpa, who were fighting each other for control of the empire as well. At one point, the Spaniards took Atahualpa hostage. He offered them a ransom of enough gold to fill the room they were keeping him in, and twice as much silver in return for his freedom. He fulfilled his promise, but they still refused to release him, and eventually murdered him in Cajamarca, in the North of Peru. I find the history of cities I visit to be as fascinating as the cities themselves. I traveled to Cajamarca with my children fifteen years ago, and my memories are so varied. From the rustic resort where we stayed, green and expansive with hand-hewn wooden playsets for the children to swing on, to the dairy farm where each of the cows is called by name into the barn to be milked.  Visitors are witness to the workers calling out, “Margarita, ven! Beatriz, ven! Cecilia, ven!” and the cows saunter in as they are called.  We went out one evening to a tiny local establishment that was lit by candles glowing against the cement walls, where the guests were seated on a bench that ran the entire lenth of three walls with small cocktail tables placed here and there. People took turns playing a guitar that was passed around the room.  The songs they sang were folkloric and clearly elicited nostalgia. Tears and smiles were both evident as the evening wore on.  It was a tiny taste of a world far removed from our own and a people still attached to their past history in a way that we can’t imagine.