The Enchanted Rocks of Checta

11 Dec

Well, my comrades, I arrived in Perú on Wednesday morning after a wild ride thanks to the two deportees sitting beside me; one who travelled all the way to Lima with me, the other who bade us a cordial farewall in Colombia and escaped the airport police. After two days of sleep and the joys of Peruvian cusine, I head out to see the petroglyphs of Checta, which is where the following story and photographs were born.

We are a gathering – but we are not rocks. All who were once warriors now live on as storytellers. You may think we were a mountain that once fell apart, a god who crumbled and scattered his ashes over the bodies of friends. No, we are warriors of the gods, the spirits who live in the mountains. We onced walked and spoke to the people; we once rose in rebellions and fought against Spaniards. We lost, but it doesn’t matter. A conquest cannot make the gods leave their mountains nor can it make the stories leave their warriors.

You can walk over a mountain as though you were walking through a life. Each mountain has a character; a spirit we call the apu. Some apus are widows, others are dancers – some want blood, others want family. If your life were a mountain, would she be lush, covered in jungles, with the sudden flight of birds? Would she be a desert mountain, realising that you don’t need very much and you love her silence? Is she steep? How are her caves? Did you go in them to paint or did you seek refuge?  

Her rocks are the symbols of the apu, the stories of your lifetime. “These are the creatures that lived by my side; these are the myths I preserved despite wind, rain and time.”

This is what I chose to believe in; the eye of the mountain. These are the animals I looked at, who I thought were perhaps like me, like the snake who taught me to burrow or the puma who taught me to laugh.”

These are my ghouls with a good sense of humour. Perhaps I’m a little bit morbid but I’m glad to be laughing:

This is the face I thought was a monster – but when I finally dared to hear him speak, I realised he was not a monster but a wise man with the following message: “Every person is born as a fragment of the sun, illuminated with their individual colour. We all shine in different ways. True wisdom, however, is learning to shine not only with your colour but with all the colours of all the people.”

These are the creatures who said, “Go away, I won’t tell you who I am and I certainly won’t let you in.” I wanted to tell them they had it all wrong; they were in my life and there’s plenty of room on my mountain for being grumpy and weird.

As I listened to the stories of rocks who were once warriors, a cold wind grew on the mountain and I had the insistent feeling of being watched. But between the rocks and on the peaks of the other mountains were only cacti. Repeatedly I mistook the cacti for men. Men standing, warriors watching. I attempted to photograph my feeling of being watched but the men decidedly remained cacti.

Pre-Columbian cultures believed that every thing is a spiritual manifestation which is free to change its form.They knew a time when the illusion of appearance was easily manipulated: people transformed into birds, pumas transformed into people. The deeper you travel into the Andes, the stronger you will realise this traditional belief to be. In unique Peruvian poetry, the mountains are gods, the rocks were once warriors – and men became cacti who could survive the passage of time without water and so remain forever on their mountain. Can you blame my mistake? In Perú there is still much room for magic.

The petroglyphs at Checta are over 3000 years old and lie scattered about the mountain without any form of protection. It’s incredible to see these rocks in their “natural habitat” and not behind a glass window in a museum. It’s incredible to be able to touch them and photograph at will. But unfortunately, quite a few have been ruined with vandalism, scribblings, graffiti, “Felipe was here”, etc. Hopefully the Peruvian government will seek to protect the petroglyphs without removing the rocks from Checta. A small family lives at the base of the mountain and voluntarily take tourists up to see the petroglyphs. They even clean up after messy visitors. Please read everything else on the beautiful petroglyphs and the local people who voluntarily take care of them HERE.

I did a lot of filming at Checta and am very excited to edit it into a short film! That is, after all, the basic plan for Perú: film & write.


8 Responses to “The Enchanted Rocks of Checta”

  1. friedrich December 11, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    incredible story. have a great time there and take care.

    • rittisoncco December 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

      Thank you, dear Friedrich! I was so happy to discover that you’re reading. 🙂 Take care in Germany and when the cold gets to be too much, come travel on my blog with me. Love, Ritti

  2. sus December 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    hey ritti, beautifull to be able go with you on your journey!!! in and around the rocks, feeling the magic. i send you a big warm hug! love to read more!! besitos sus

    • rittisoncco December 13, 2011 at 4:04 am #

      It’s even more fun now knowing that you were running around with me! Thank you for your comment, Sus. I look forward to running around with you some more…

  3. Gerhard December 13, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Hola Ritti, it seems that those wise people were also kind of bloggers who wanted to post some interesting stories. It`s fascinating so see and read how you suck in the spirit of this environment and that you are even interactive with what you see and feel. Very nice stories that you tell us from the rocks. I`m sure that for a moment you felt united with that magic moment, like being present in the past with a `time machine`. It`s really hard, even with a good camera, to photograph the feeling of being watched. But I believe you 100%.
    Best wishes for your magic journey.

    • rittisoncco December 13, 2011 at 4:07 am #

      And once again, dear Gerhard, I am so happy to know you are reading. I enjoy every single one of your comments very much. Thank you for being so interactive and always replying! I felt surprisingly “in tune” with the rocks, moreso perhaps that I understood at the time. Looking back at this post, I feel as though something changed in my writing the minute I landed in Perú. I look forward to the next post already! Tomorrow I am going to visit the holy desert temple of Pachacámac and I hope to write about it in the evening. Thank you for the wishes. As always, I look forward to your deep replies. 🙂

  4. purple Harem January 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    What a wonderful image to see you in contrast with all the silent stories these mountains have to say. Would love to go there one day, so many places we dont even know that are dying to tell their side of the story. i think you would love Markawasi for this magical reason too 🙂

  5. johnny May 23, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    When some one searches for his necessary thing, so he/she desires to be available that in detail,
    therefore that thing is maintained over here.

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