Remarkable are the moments when you look back in the past and realize you were there in the right place at the right time but even more extraordinary is when you realize it at the very moment. A quivering of excitement runs through your veins, a strange tickle runs through your spine and ultimately every hair on your skin rises by the overwhelming feeling. Amaicha Del Valle is for us this place at that very moment. We are lucky and arrive at this small indigenous Calchaquí community the day before the locals celebrate and honour Mother Earth. Pachamama is a concept we have seen along our travel since the north of Colombia getting closer to the border, also in Ecuador, Peru and undoubtedly in Bolivia.
Pachamama is a goddess honoured by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also recognised as the earth/time mother and as nature itself. She is an ever present and independent divinity who has her own liberating and creative power to sustain life on this earth. She is basically the core of a belief system of eco-social action among the different Andes tribes.
At the central park San Martìn a pile of stones (Apacheta) that represents Pachamama is attracting more people as the morning grows old and the sun gets higher in the sky. Primitive rhythms of drums and ancestral chants are gathering the crowd while locals and especially the folklore dressed women make their offerings to Pachamama. All listen very carefully to the outing of gratitude of what Mother Nature has given them and the wishes they have for the future of mother earth. Their closeness to the heart discourse is as old as the mountains surrounding us but in between the lines filled with modern, up-to-date ‘climate-change-problems’ and harvest difficulties. We witness a dialogue between an agrarian community and their land they work so hard on. Pachamama listens to their orations while she receives the offerings such as flowers, grapes, corn, water, wine and liquors.
Stands offering local self-made food, homemade drinks and handmade arts are filling the streets around the central square together with music that comes a bit from everywhere. The famous Argentinean empanadas are made on location and got our attention as we notice that it is the perfect food! Self-made with natural bio products, a big diversity with chicken, meat, ham and cheese, vegetarian, spicy,… all of them are freshly cooked and last but not least, they are cheap. Other options are the plenty big barbeques with all kinds of meat, the open grills with tortitas filled with ham/bacon and cheese, salchipapa (fries with sausice) or even the less traditional hamburgers. Or we can get a full dish at the improvised food court on the local football field with views on a stage where Copleras give the best of them singing Coplas, popular songs famous for this kind of celebrations.
Amaicha Del valle might be a snoozing town the rest of the year but now it feels like the centre of the world. Not only for locals but we notice a respectful attentiveness and participation from other travellers from all over the world. This hamlet build around a pile of stones covered with offerings is at this very exceptional moment the place to be.
- Hostal Pacha Kuti is one of the best we tried during our whole journey. A fine young open minded spirit. No complications, basic with everything you might need for just 100 pesos per night/person. Breakfast (with daily fresh home-made baked bread) and dinner included which are just delicious. Sitting all together at the table while eating brings the traveller in contact with others.
- There is a museum about Pachamama which gives the visitor a view on a wide spread Andes culture.
- A bit outside the village (18km) you can find the Quilmes ruins. Archaeologically interesting and naturally beautiful setting.
- If possible, go when the Fiesta de Pachamama is happening. Be respectful and enjoy every bit of it.