October 7, 2013
La Recoleta, the birthplace of Sucre, is at the foot of a “hill” (though it seems more like a mountain to this Chicagoan) called Churuquella and overlooks the city. At the summit of the adjoining “hill,” Sica Sica, are the city’s radio and TV towers; but near the summit of Churuquella is a giant statue of Jesus with his arms stretched out. A winding road leads to the top, with the thirteen stations of the cross marked on the way, but one can also climb crumbling stairs made of rocks; it’s a thousand-feet climb (I think) and Saturday it takes me close to an hour (from my house; about forty-five minutes from La Recoleta). It’s exhausting, made worse by a strong cold wind. Jesus is atop a twelve-foot high pyramid; inside people are burning incense and pouring alcoholic libations. Pick-up trucks packed with mountain bikes go up to the peak and the bikers speed down. Beyond Jesus, who is situated so that he’s visible to the entire town, is the summit itself, topped by a ramp for the bicyclists; beyond that is a trail that I don’t follow very far because of more bicyclists. But on the side of the peak closest to Sica Sica is evidence of dozens of campfires, many of them with the remnants of ram skulls and bones. What ceremonies are conducted here? Later I ask Ryan, who answers, “I know that after yatiris (Aymara medicine men) conduct their ch'alla offerings, they bury the remains on Churuquella. This must have been going on, in some form, for hundreds of years. Maybe you stumbled on the area.” I want to know more.
Last night something made me violently ill. On one of my many trips to the bathroom I fainted twice and dented the wall with my head. I’m feeling a bit better now after a couple of Cipro pills, but wonder what a yatiri could do for me. Perhaps a ram sacrifice near the peak of Churuquella would help . . .