Misa de Cruces at Laguna Willcacocha
It was Martes Guerra and the last few days of Carnaval 2019 in Huaraz. Denis, Mabel and I headed on a Tuesday trek to the village of Willcacocha to join in the festivities. One of the mountain guides we knew, Señor Hugo had a house there and he had invited us to join him and his family.
Misa de Cruces (Mass of the Crosses) is a procession of large, handmade and beautifully decorated crosses. It’s lead by local musicians usually playing the quena (a traditional flute made of wood) and drums. It’s a result of the Spanish Catholic influence, as well as native traditional music. I noticed that the musicians were older, and Mabel said that many of the younger generation no longer wanted to learn some of the traditions.
As we made our way up the trail, we met Josefina with four sheep in tow. Her daughter and some young children were also with her. She was typically dressed like most of the women from the countryside - a colourful skirt, stockings, cardigan and hat. Her long hair worn in a simple plait. I thought she was beautiful and
I asked Denis to ask her for permission so I could take a picture
It was early afternoon before we caught up with Señor Hugo. We met some of the locals who were getting ready for the Misa de Cruces. We didn’t follow the procession as the cross made its way around the far side of the lake, but we did walk up the hill to where the mass would be held.
On the other side of the hill were a scattering of tarpaulin, which turned out to be locals selling food and drinks. This is where we would have lunch - a plate of chicken and potatoes. A bit further down is where they would hold mass, with a view of the Cordillera Negra. It was a surreal setting, and perhaps one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever attended mass.
Unfortunately I had to leave around 3pm to be back in time for an evening class. I caught a taxi back with the priest who also had to return to Huaraz. There was a massive downpour as the taxi made its way down the rugged, pothole ridden dirt road. Denis and Mabel stayed a bit longer and got home a few hours later. It was a great way to spend a few hours in the sunshine, while connecting with locals and embracing local culture.
Ronna la Exploradora is Ronna Grace Funtelar - a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and poet currently working and traveling in Peru.
A woman with a curious mind who lives for hiking mountains, outdoor adventures and eating pizza. She has a unique brand of optimism that
is a combination of her great enthusiasm for life and cups of coffee during