Day 35 – Jatun de Quillacas

Day 35 – Jatun de Quillacas

The church and the mountain the Guacho climbed in Quillacas.

The church and the mountain the Guacho climbed in Quillacas.

     In the colonial era, Quillacas was founded May 20, 1501 by Juan Pio Choqueticlla and confirmed by the judge, Jose de la Vega Lavarada who visited the area and confirmed the measurement of the land and its ownership.   Prior to colonial rule, Quillacas was the center of the Federation of Quillacus Aranaque located on the southern side of Lake Poopo. It was divided into two ecological zones, Haranaya and Kusisaya.

 

View of Quillacas quinoa fields awaiting spring planting extending to the far shores of Lake Poopo in the distance.

View of Quillacas quinoa fields awaiting spring planting extending to the far shores of Lake Poopo in the distance.

           Besides its vast acreage of quinoa fields that extend far across the altiplano, Quillacas is also known for its church, the Sanctuary of Quillacas. The (now written) oral history states that in the 17th century, an Argentinean businessman traveling to an international trade fair with a herd of mules for sale, settled down for a short nap. When the guacho awoke, his mules were nowhere to be found! Desperately he looked everywhere for them, finally climbing Saint Juan Mallcu Mountain. They were nowhere to be seen. Crying, the forlorn mad began to descend the mountain. He came across an old man who said, “Don’t cry, my son! You will find what you seek.” Sure enough around the next turn, the guacho found his herd of mules happily drinking from an oasis of water (however there is no water in this area). He was so happy that he climbed up the mountain to thank the old man. Much to his surprise, when he returned to where the old man w, he found instead the image of a crucified Christ. He thought for sure this was a miracle. The gaucho could not sleep without dreaming of the crucified Christ. Years later he returned and built the Sanctuary of Christ of Quillacas right on that spot (the church marker has the date as 1873).

            Today people come from around the world for the healing powers of the church, kneeling in processions across the stone courtyard, circling the cross. It is said that a few years ago, a crippled boy came and after dragging himself around the rough stone courtyard path three times, he later returned being able to fully walk on his own again. Such is the power of Christ of Quillacas!

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