Memories for The Whole Life
Located in the south-central Andes of the country of Peru is a wonderful place with picturesque mountains, millions of stars in the sky, beautiful clouds during the day, and many famous churches. It is characterized by its fauna and flora and magnificent landscape. This place, where my grandmother was born and raised, is called Ayacucho. December 27, 1998 was the first time that I visited Ayacucho. I met the nature and the real fresh air of this magical place. I was amazed by Ayacucho’s architecture and environment. My first night in Ayacucho I met those beautiful stars, and it made me fall in love. I had never seen something like that before, because I’m originally from Lima, and the sky there is nothing compared to Ayacucho because it had millions of stars. Every summer my grandmother took me to her village before she died. My grandmother taught me something vital, that she could only do in Ayacucho, which was to appreciate nature and little moments without technology. This place became important to me.
In 1998, I was traveling with my grandparents to Ayacucho for the first time by bus, and I was able to appreciate those beautiful and colorful landscapes also huge mountains on the way to the village. It was daytime, and through the window I could see huge clouds that looked like cotton candy. To get into Ayacucho, first you have to go around the mountain with many curves. Due to my fear of heights, I felt sick, and it gave me “Soroche,” which means mountain sickness. This word is very popular in the Andes, because of the dry weather and heights. It happens when people are not accustomed to the dry weather, and being at 2500 meters above sea level higher, the more likely it is that they notice and suffer from it. The more you ascend, the lower the atmospheric pressure and the oxygen pressure, and thus the inhaled oxygen is lower. In my experience, when I was in the heights of the mountain. I started to feel “soroche.” It was complicated when I was trying to run, I did not have enough air, I was getting a headache, fatigue, dizziness and nausea. But those sensations could not stop me from seeing those beautiful views. My grandmother sat me next to the window to see all the landscapes. When the bus descended towards the city, I could see humble houses with clay tile roofs, and a different reality from the one I was used to seeing in Lima. Immediately, when I arrived in town, I felt in another world. I wanted to go everywhere, but my grandma said no because I had to get some rest. It had been a long 9-hours trip and the altitude could affect me.
When we finally arrived at my grandmother’s house, it was already nightime. My room was on the second floor and I could see millions of stars from the big window, so quickly I went out to look at them from the balcony. It was a beautiful view, and my grandmother came out to watch them with me. She said that you can only see them here and always keep those beautiful memories in your heart.” People who leave from here turn into a brilliant star in the sky” she said, I was just six years old, and I thought a lot of dead people were in the heavens like stars. I could say that day I became fascinated with the stars.
The next day in the morning my grandparents took me out for the Sunday mass. First, they took me into the plaza which was something different because everything was very antique but beautiful. I saw one of the thirty-three most famous Churches of Ayacucho, which is called, Catedral Bazilica. I was amazed by so many beautiful things inside the cathedral because its architecture is Renaissance Baroque. It is built with pink stone in the center and gray stone in the towers. It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Peru, especially for its interiors decorated with a Churrigueresque style the most typical religious buildings are in a gothic style with big columns, many castles, big wood doors and it looks like a castle. It is similar to St. Patrick’s Cathedral from New York . The stipe is characterized by representing a geometric scheme of the human body: the capital is the head, the bucket or bulbous section is the chest, the narrowing between the cube and the top of the inverted pyramid would be the waist, the pyramid itself clearly shows the figure of hips and legs, narrowing when descending to the feet. I remember when the mass ended, I was running everywhere to see everything, but one thing scared me, which were the sculptures of the church because they look real like they were staring at me. Those sculptures are part of the decoration of the church, they are made by stone, wood, plaster and ceramics.
Later, my grandparents took me to the club where they were a member, and there I was connected with nature. When I rode a horse across the Pampas, I could not run fast because the dry weather made me feel weak of breath, so I was going very slowly. When I was riding the horse, I saw many llamas, alpacas and a large condor in the sky. After that, I went to the guinea pig breeder, and I was so nervous, because they looked like rats. Then my grandmother told me that one of them would be our lunch, and she forced me to eat that poor and disgusting animal, but after I liked it. My grandmother was trying to connect me with nature. Even though she taught me the love and respect for animals, she forced me to eat a guinea pig. She told me that animals in the countryside are so happy because they are free.
My last day in Ayacucho was when I was nine years old,a few months before my grandmother passed away. We took a walk near the waterfalls, and I saw there many women were washing their clothes in the river, which was something new for me. In a particular way they threw their clothes against the stones while they sang in their native language “Quechua.” Then we continued our walk under the river looking the nature, and I collected many tadpoles and then my grandma told me to return them back into the river. I was sad because I wanted to take them with me, but she said no because their place is in the river. I liked that huge river because of the fresh water and beautiful landscapes. I haven’t seen anything like that before.
I recommend this place for those who like to have new adventures. In this place I have the most beautiful memories of my grandmother about how she shared with me her thoughts and also her village. I would like to go back there one day and visit these places again, and see the millions of stars. I know that in one of those millions of stars the brightest is my grandmother.