Juanita and unexpected encounters

Yesterday morning was spent entirely in my room catching up on my diary and sorting, editing and uploading photos. I could hardly walk when I got out of bed this morning, so really didn’t want to do much else anyway.

In the early afternoon, I walked up to the Museo Santuarios Andinos where Juanita, the Frozen Girl, is on display. The entire museum is devoted to the finding of Juanita’s body, as well as those of a girl and boy aged about 8, on the top of Ampato volcano. They had all been sacrifices, by the Incas, to appease the gods and had remained intact for the last 500 years. Their discovery was made by Johan Reinhardt, an archaeologist and mountaineer, who had been searching for Inca remains. The bodies were exposed after an eruption on a neighbouring volcano, the heat from which had melted the glacier on Ampato, thus exposing the graves.

Juanita, was in her early teens when she died. She must have frozen soon after death as all her internal organs, skin and hair had remained completely intact, with the exception of her face that had become dehydrated after being exposed to the sun when her body had rolled from the grave after the volcanic tremors.

Also in the museum were artefacts, such as ceramic containers, that had been surrounding the bodies in the graves. It was fascinating. Apparently, 16 bodies of young human sacrifices have so far been found in Peru and Chile. It would have been quite an incredible feat for the Incas to have reached the tops of the volcanoes in those days to make these sacrifices without all the equipment that is available today.

After my museum visit, I was wandering around the city centre, when I spotted Israel and Eefje looking at a cafe menu. I hadn’t seen them since Trujillo so we adjourned to a Middle Eastern cafe for lunch and to catch up on what we had all been doing. We had followed more or less the same route and even overlapped at times, but hadn’t realised it.

Once we had finished lunch, I left them and walked up to the Colca Trek office to see if they had my jacket, which I had left in the van. (I only realised I had done this, just before I bumped into Israel and Eefje.) The lady in the office phoned Freddy and arranged for him to bring it in and I had to return at 6.30pm to collect it. This left a bit of time on my hands so I had a coffee in a cafe and read an ebook on my phone for quite some time, after which I decided to take a last look at the Cathedral.

The protesters were still in force in the Plaza but nobody seemed to be taking much notice of them. I then bumped into the young French couple (whose names, I think, were Guillaume and Clara), on the Cathedral steps and had a chat to them for a few minutes. They are very delightful young people. When I eventually returned to Colca Trek, Paul was also in the office so it was obviously an afternoon for unexpected encounters. After retrieving my jacket, it was back to the hotel and a rest for the remainder of the evening.

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