Cochas Chico is a small town near Huancayo that is known for its mates burilados, small gourds that have been dried and then intricately carved by hand with scenes depicting life and culture from this area of the world. The town has constructed a tourist park to showcase its craft, with large sculptures of mates woven into gardens.
The shining sun not only brought out tourists, but also hummingbirds to the gardens.
The park as a few craft stalls set up where local vendors can sell their mates. We purchased a couple mates from a lovely woman who took time to explain each design on each one. The one below has a lid and shows a man herding his llamas who are wearing blankets, a condor flying high in the mountains over the llamas, and a traditional home with a family wearing traditional clothing.
Cochas Chico also hosts a large cross on a hilltop called La Cruz de Paz (the Cross of Peace) The cross was constructed from remnants of electrical towers that had been toppled by the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) during the political violence of the 1980s-90s. The walk up to the cross is steep, but is at least paved with stones.
At the top of the hill, you are greeted with a breathtaking view of the expansive city of Huancayo and a glimpse down the Mantaro Valley towards Jauja. The surrounding area is primarily countryside with small plantings of crops like corn and potatoes, which are just beginning to grow now that we’re in the midst of the rainy season.
Cochas Chico is a beautiful location for such a meaningful symbol of the country’s movement towards rebuilding and reconciliation. And, as Thanksgiving approaches for those in the US, it reminds me to be thankful for the peaceful environment in which we are now able to live in safely here in Peru. We are so thankful for being able to spend time in this country and learn about its wonderful people and culture.