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Sacrifices and Australia Day

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We were back in Arequipa for just over 24 hours, but it was Australia Day so we had to make the most of it!

First thing we did was sleep in – FINALLY! Then after a healthy breakfast I headed to the Museo Santuarios Andios, which is home to the frozen mummy of "Juanita," who was sacrificed in the Andes in the 1500s. The history of the Incas was fascinating and also horribly sad, as children were a common sacrifice to the gods then. The most beautiful and healthiest of children were chosen and then taken on a pilgrimage into the mountains (which often took months) where they were then given as an offering to the gods in an attempt to appease them, hoping to ensure a good harvest or stop a natural disaster.

Juanita would have been between 12-15 years old when she made her pilgrimage, from what they found with her body on the mountain (baby shoes, bowls, gold and silver statues) it was believed that she would be reborn as a god and these items would help her in her next life. Even if she did believe this, I still can’t begin to think what must have been going through her mind as she trekked in the freezing cold and high altitude to her death.

When they reached the summit, there was a ceremony and she was dressed in the most lavish of clothing and gowns. It was believed by this point most of the children were close to death anyway from the hike itself and wouldn’t have been very coherent (you hope this was the case), but as part of the ceremony they were also given chicha (an alcoholic drink made from corn) to sedate them. After this Juanita was sat down in a burial hole and surrounded by the offerings, more blankets were placed around her and one final one over her head. I hope by this point she was unconscious, because to complete the sacrifice she was then struck on the head to kill her and then buried. It was heart breaking to hear her story and then see her mummy at the end of the tour. After the museum we were all ready for a stiff drink to shake off the sombre feeling that we all had.

Within the 90 minutes we had been at the museum, the boys had managed to find a pub and were already in full swing celebrating Australia Day. Over the next few hours the entire group ended up at this pub and this was where we stayed for nearly 6 hours, eating burgers and chilli fries, making our way through the drinks menu and becoming best friends with the owner; until we had to return to our hostel to get our bags and head to catch an overnight bus to Cusco! Our guide wasn’t best pleased when many of us turned up a little merrier and louder than usual, so we all got a short telling off before quietly boarding the bus.

Next stop Cusco!

Posted by sdyzart 16:32 Archived in Peru Tagged people children honeymoon peru arequipa inca juanita southamerica mrandmrs

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