photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
Peru glossary


(PERU 11)













We are in the campesina community of Quiulacocha and on this occasion we're going to talk with Señora Dominica.

Section 1
Señora Dominica, good day. How are you? We'd like you to tell us something about yourself, about your life?
Well, I was born in the month of my birthday, 24 February. I’m now what they call 70 years old, I’m 70 now you know.

Which village were you born in?
I was born in the village of Quiulacocha, yes, I'm from right here.

Tell us about your childhood, what was life like for you when you were a child?
I happened to be brought up in the Andachacha hacienda (estate farm), in the days when there were haciendas, this was before you see. My mother was single. I didn't know my father. He abandoned me when I was only nine months old - I never knew my father. So I went to the Andachacha hacienda with my mother, she took me there. I met my husband there too, but I was born here. My mother died after I’d got together with my husband. Yes, thirty years ago now she died.

Tell me what the haciendas that used to be here were like?
The Andachacha hacienda was over the way, in Lircari. That's where my father-in-law worked as a bricklayer, and I, honourably, in poverty, used to work spinning, weaving, washing clothes, with my mother. I grew up having to work because I didn't have a father. Right up until this day, I’ve had to work because my husband is a sick man, he’s an invalid and so I have to work, spinning, weaving and selling whatever I can. That’s what life here is like, you see. That’s what I learnt in the hacienda, there in Lircari. The haciendas used to be big - the bosses were the hacienda owners and we worked for them. But all this came to an end with the agrarian reform.

Do you remember which year this was?
I don't remember now....years ago.

Tell us, your mother, what was she like? Did she used to work in the Andachaca hacienda?
My mother didn't used to work, no. My father-in-law worked as a bricklayer on the hacienda and that's why we lived there, as the family of her husband. She didn't work in the hacienda, but she used to spin and weave and that's how I learnt. I never knew my father.
Section 2
And is Andachaca very far from here, from Quiulacocha?
Yes, it’s a long way from here to Ancachaca, it’s far, very far. To get to Andachaca you have to go by truck, down past the bend at Mallar and then down and down, and the Andachaca hacienda is still far off. It’s a long way, but we still all went there.

And what animals did they used to rear in the hacienda?
There were sheep, cows, hens. My job was getting milk for the hacienda, and in the same hacienda we skimmed the milk, buying butter and cheese in Lircari. Then I was ordered with the workers to sell the butter in, what did they call it, La Corina. They used to sell [things] in La Corina, at the checkpoint, every week, every Friday. I’d go with him, yes I soon got used to it, selling stockings in La Corina, they used to knit there and weave. When he got paid, I’d go with my father-in-law,. gosh it was hard, not having anyone, not ever knowing my father and, goodness we were poor!

In those days, when you were a child, were there any schools?
Yes there was a school, there was a school and faithfully my mother would come to take me to school, there I learnt, but I didn't finish because we were poor. I remember that [one day] I was studying and [the next] they took me away. I didn't finish, I don't know many things, I didn't learn [much].

Is it true that girls didn't used to go to study at school?
They used to go, of course. The one's with fathers, who lived with their fathers went more easily, of course. They went [to school] and continued right through. But as I didn't actually have a father.... I just had a mother and she couldn't support me, and it’s not just because she had to pay for everything herself. She had three stepchildren, young, about your age and they all used to work in the families, helping their fathers as bricklayers. They used to help extracting stones, measuring stuff, things like that, that’s all they used to do. As my mother’s daughter, I used to accompany them to the harvest. My mother went to other places and when she went selling stockings I used to follow my uncles. I used to spend all day with my father-in-law, so that's why I never finished school.

Tell me Señora Dominica, what things did your mother sell when she was a trader? What did your mother sell when she did her business?
My mother used to sell the stockings she made, jumpers. She’d exchange them for sheep, for wool for us to weave.

She made the jumpers herself?
Yes, herself, just like me now. Right now I'm going to knit some stockings to sell, my little jumpers, bed covers too. Because my husband is a sick man, an invalid - he doesn't work, he doesn't do anything and because of this, up till now, this has been my work. It’s better if it’s that's way, if I can earn a living. This is what life has taught me and so I go on ahead.

Tell us Señora, how old were you when you got married?
I was actually married when I was only 14 years old. My husband had me when I was doing my errands, going to buy milk. He had me and took me away. I didn't know my husband before that, I knew his sister. I was with her when my husband had me. My mother came along and rebuked him. Why have you done this to my daughter? I sent my daughter to go and buy milk and cheese with her, with your sister. She’s young and you’ve had her. But it had happened by then and [so] we got married.... I’m telling you, we didn't know each other, we'd hardly even seen each other and we hadn't had any relationship, nothing, nothing at all. But when somebody has you then your family comes to ask questions. From that point on they start making plans for the wedding. That's how it is.
Section 3
And did you agree to getting married?
I was only fourteen years old so I didn't really know what it was going to be like. That's what it was like before. They’d have you, the men used to take young women of this age and then they’d get married and everything would be all right.

But what do you think, was this good or bad?
No well, but it was the custom, now it’s less [like that]. Now they ask for the hand of the girl they want to marry. Now it’s changed a bit.

And what's marriage like now when they ask for the hand?
Asking for the hand when they have a relationship, telling mummy and daddy and so they consent and then start making plans for the wedding, like that you see. That's what happens now, it’s quicker. They don’t have the women like they did before, it’s like that now.

When young people get married or got married in your time, how do they celebrate the wedding?
Well, after getting married they show up with their husband, best man and bridesmaid, and the bridesmaid and best man give them the bouquet. Then they go, when there's nothing else to be done, the family give them a blessing and the woman goes off to the house. Before that the best man has put out some cheese and water for them. This is all. Then afterwards they have a party at his house. So the couple, when everybody’s come back from the church, then we set a table for them somewhere and then in the night everyone has a party, dancing and drinking. The [following] day, the bride’s family puts on a lunch for all the family of the groom. That's what it’s like you see.

Is there a special meal that they have at weddings?
Yes, they serve what they call a roast, we have this first and then we have what they call tosta, we have the tosta at 12 at night.

What is the tosta?
It’s toasted maize, that's what it is.

How do you prepare the roast?
The roast is prepared with seasoning, with garlic, you season the meat with this then you cook it on the stones, in the clay ovens out in the field. You can also prepare it in a pressure cooker, or in a frying pan, that's how they do it. And it’s prepared in a really exquisite sauce, with tomatoes and onions and everything, with lettuce, this is what they call the roast. We do this on birthdays as well, this is what we normally do, young man.
Section 4
Is it customary to do the same on birthdays?
Yes, the same on birthdays. And guinea-pig as well, of course they prepare this as well.

And how do you cook guinea pig?
You kill the guinea pig and stew it, then brown it in oil in the frying pan, like you do with peanuts, it’s really tasty, a really beautifully coloured sauce in a pot, with a bit of garlic, not the whole thing, then you add your potatoes. It’s better if, you know in the street where they sell the coloured garlic, it’s young [garlic], the sauce then is well cooked, like peanuts and then you put your meat in piece by piece until its golden brown and then serve it with a couple of potatoes. You can also stew the potatoes, and put dressing on [them], so everything is done with seasoning, lots of spices, everything you see, you put the whole potato there on top, that's the potatoes there, and on top of that you put the meat, a lovely colour it is young man.

And have the meals changed or do you think they are the same for the fiestas (festivals) and celebrations?
No, they haven't changed at all, they maintain this as a tradition, the good things don't change here in these lands, we're proud of our meals and that's how we prepare them.

What was your life like after you got married Señora?
I have always helped my husband here to work in business. As he’s always been ill I've always worked hard, Señor. He had his animals, he worked as a watchman, but that's all. I've had to work to keep my home. He used to work for a while, for a time, but he became ill and I had to take over. After two years I had a son and so I stopped working but I continued knitting for the factory. After that my husband worked in the [rail] stations in Capuy. He worked here in the cooperative too as a watchman, that’s what he did. Before that because he had quite a few animals, chickens, he also used to raise animals and sell them, but we've lived poorly like that you see. In Jumach, another place, we've also worked firing metal. The men did this and the women sewed the bags they carried the metals in. That’s where my husband used to work, next to it there's a big lake, it’s huge. and we’d get there by boat. We’d go by boat and we’d come home by boat as well.

You're saying that there was a lake next to the village?
Next to the village settlement, it was a new village, not like there in Chaco where they’re working in the camp or in Cerro de Pasco, it was a [real] village. There is a big lake there and we’d cross it to get there and get home.

And what did you used to call this lake?
This lake was called Tungrum.

And are there animal species in this lake?
Yes there were before but I've never seen any, a few little fish there were, but they say there were even whales which made people disappear, - they’d turn boats over. One day when I used the boat, after we’d got here they said that several people had disappeared, they drowned and they were never found. It could be the whale. I've never seen anything, a few fish, frogs.. frogs, yes there are quite a lot of those. In the boat we’d go there in, I don’t know what they call them, but there were all these cages with dozens of frogs that they’d take to eat.
Section 5
And did you used to buy frogs?
No, I never bought them because I was afraid, I was afraid of eating frogs, I didn't like them, but people do eat a lot of frogs here.

Tell me how many children you had?
I've had fourteen children but only eight of them are alive, just eight are alive that's all.

And out of the eight children, how old is the oldest?
The oldest now, I've even forgotten the name of my oldest daughter, I don't remember who the oldest was, it was a girl as well, it was a girl.

Are they all married?
Yes, they're all married.

And what do they do?
Well, different things, but most of them are in the mines.

They work in Centromin?
Not just in Centromin, they also work in Ucchuchacua, in the Buenaventura mine. I go there as well to sell my things and to see my children.

Where is Ucchuchacua Señora?
Just here, not very far away. Ucchuchacua is on the way out from here to Cordillera, going towards Huacho, the other way from going to Lima. My two sons are working there close to Huacho. I go there every week and earn my money there. I go there to sell, they also work there with the minerals, my two sons, they all work in the mines, in the plant, also the ones who work for the big company, the one you mentioned, Centromin.

And haven’t your children picked up illnesses from the mines?
No, no....there have only been accidents on the face, but only slight ones as well, that's all, not much.

And what do you think of their work, do you agree with them being miners or would you prefer them to do other things?
Yes, it’s a good job, it’s a local job. My children have had to work since they were very young because their father was very ill and I couldn't look after all my children. They’ve had jobs in the mines, for the company and in Ucchuchacua.

Señora, as you're from Quiulacocha, what fiestas (festivals, celebrations) did they used to celebrate in your community and do they still celebrate them, or have they changed?
No, they still have them. Here in February they have the Baile Viejo (Old Dance), in the carnivals it’s the custom the Baile Viejo - it’s an ancient custom.
Section 6
What's the Baile Viejo like?
The Baile Viejo is seen as a treasure by the people from this community. They dress up with tiny bells on their feet and sheepskin in their hair. The girls, the young ladies dress in pure white, that’s how they dress up to dance what is called the Baile Viejo, at carnival time - it’s really lovely.

Señora, for the Baile Viejo, what material is the dress the dancers wear made from?
It’s material from here, our material, but it’s really lovely - black breaches and long black jackets. Yes it’s made from the woollen hides of the llama, they get it from here, from the livestock.

Are there other dances apart from the Baile Viejo?
There's also the Chonguino which is danced at other times of the year. It’s not like the carnival which is just once a year. As well as the carnival there's the Chonguino.

And what's the Chonguino like?
They dance the Chonguino with a black hat with a feather. They also put on ribbons and a black mask and black trousers too.

When they dance the Chonguino, how many people are there?
It’s up to the steward in charge, either six pairs, three pairs or five pairs, that's how it is.

What's the steward like or who is the steward?
The steward is elected the year before and he's in charge of the next fiesta and he organises the fiesta. The steward wears sky blue. When I was young he used to dress in another colour but that's changed now. During the fiesta he receives the ribbon and wears it for the next year. He takes over from right at the beginning of the fiesta. He organises an orchestra for five whole days and nights. He has to give them dinner every evening and breakfast every morning, with pork, with boiled corn, maybe even cake. He has to provide food for all the orchestra. The steward has to pay for it all, everything, that's the custom here . He kills a bull, he kills a lamb, a llama. The year before last my son in law was the steward and he did the same.

How long does the fiesta last?
It lasts five or six days depending on.., yes five days from the eve. If you go dancing at the fiesta you have to keep going, starting from the meal and the orchestra, all the orchestra and the dancers have to keep going.

Do they eat any special foods, local food during the fiesta?
The special custom of this village is patasca (traditional soup), then there’s your roast or stew or your hotpot for the main course. For starters there’s potatoes a la huancaina. Potatoes a la huancaina is prepared by melting cheese with yellow garlic. We cook the potato, we peel them, then on top we put this cheese spread with the yellow garlic, egg, lettuce, olive. Yes, this is the starter.
Section 7
This is for potatoes a la huancaina. What's patasca like?
For patasca, you boil corn mixed with offal, with the head of lamb or bull, as this is spicy meat they do it with maize, some like it plain, others prefer it with flavouring, so this is patasca. We also make pachamanca (meat and vegatabls cooked in underground ovens). For pachamanca you cut the meat piece by piece, then you season it with huacatay, with garlic, pepper, salt. You leave it over night then on the following day to heat it up, you put it on top of a really hot stone, the meat on top of the potato and the pachamanca comes out really rich. You have to come to the carnival young man to see how they eat pachamanca, prepared below the ground with hot stones.

Do they also celebrate carnival?
Yes, this is what the Baile Viejo is for - for carnival. This is the custom every year, young man. The people who have sheep dress them up, it’s really beautiful. The llamas and cows too, people tie ribbons on them, this is a village custom.

Is there any special colour of yarn that they use?
Yes, they put the same colour on the male and the female, red or pink as well.

And this is during carnival?
This is the custom for carnival. On the cow too, they put ribbons on them as well and when they're unmarked, they mark them with their initials.

Is it true that at carnival time they also mark the sheep as well? What's this marking like?
Yes they mark [sheep]. The marking is a custom that the owners do softly or heavily with a spoon.

In the ear?
Yes, in the ear.

And what are the typical celebration drinks?
Mainly chicha (liquor made from maize), this is the most typical. In my time we used to drink only chicha., It’s changed now and they drink more beer as well, with the chicha.

How do you prepare chicha?
You boil maize, you boil it and then you pass it through a strainer and then señor, then you leave it for the party. You make four barrels, and you boil it really well and cover it with nettles so it doesn't go off. That's how it's prepared. Next time you come I'll prepare it for you.
Section 8
Well señora, do you believe that life has changed here in the community. What was life like when you got married? In those days did people think about women working, did they the women should work after they were married?
Cooking, washing and ironing, this, young man, this is the life for a woman now. You have a wife too. When you look for a wife you're not only going to look for someone for the bed, you have to look for someone to iron, to wash, to make sure they can sew. Although you might not wear knitted socks now, she’s going to have to mend your trousers when you get a hole, she’s going to do the ironing. This is the work of a woman right till the end. You're going to look for a woman who’ll serve you, so they look for this as well. This is women’s work - she's going to cook for you, iron, she's going to wash for you. You're not going to have a wife if you’re looking for a woman who sits on her backside all day, that's how it is young man.

In the same way as women have their special work, what do the men dedicate themselves to once they get married?
Of course he looks for work so that he can keep his wife and his children. Otherwise how could you live? If you don't work, if you don't do anything, who's going to feed [ the family]? Nobody will give it to you, only your mum and dad while they’re alive. From then on you’ll hardly see your wife, you’ll have to go and find a way to look after your children like I told you, how to look after your wife. Because when you see your wife, you don't want to see her naked, without clothes all the time, do you?

And how do you regard the young people these days, your children for example, do you think that customs have changed or are they the same as in your days?
It’s different now, a little that's all. But also my children have married with girls from other places and you realise the customs of other villages are different. When the young men go off to find work and they get married far away, then they bring back different customs, and things change, but not that much I don’t think. Nowadays the girls also travel far - this didn't used to be the case. These days they work in other places. I only used to work close to here. but now there's no work nearby and this is what happens, they go elsewhere and learn other customs, this is what happens.

What other things have you seen change?
Nothing else.

And does your husband work now?
Not now, he's 87 now but he used to work in the mining centre as well.

For the Cerro De Pasco Corporation?
Yes, my husband worked there as a watchman that's all, because he was very ill, that’s why he just worked as a watchman. He was already 80 by then. Now my husband is more than 87 years old, he's very old and he suffers from ill health because of his age.

What illness does your husband have?
Rheumatism. Because the cold got onto his bones, that's what it is. It is because of the cold that he got so thin, very thin. This as well, young man, catches up on you with age.
Section 9
Tell me Señora, your husband's family, were they also miners or what did they do?
They were livestock rearers in the country. They had a lot of animals, they were rich, they had 70 or 80 breeding llamas and sheep as well. Before my mother-in-law died, my father-in-law dedicated his life to this, nothing more. Since my mother-in-law died he just dedicates himself to drinking, nothing more. After he started using his savings, well, you wouldn’t recognise my father-in-law. He used to work very hard, he reared animals in the countryside, he was a farmer, that’s what he was. There used to be more animals in the community, there was more prosperity, this has changed here in Quiulacocha.

What else do you remember about your youth? What other things have changed?
You will have seen the lake of ours. When I was young, there were plenty of seagulls, that's why they called it Quiulacocha, in Quechua that's what it means but in Spanish they say “gaviota” (seagull) but in Quechua “eula eula”.

Was the lake of Quiulacocha different?
Yes, here young man, yes, here it was full of everything. It was really big, you could pass by here and it was beautiful, there were cattle all over. It was a tremendous lake, tremendous it was. The seagulls laid their eggs here. I've seen it. There were also the bad bulls in the lake, a coloured bull, of silver and gold. This was here before because there was silver in the lake and the bulls were angry because the foreigners wanted to take away all the gold.

We've heard this story in conversations with other members of your community, but we thought that it was a legend?
It’s true, my son. The bulls attacked my husband one night, these bad bulls attacked him.

How come the bull attacked him? Tell us what it was like, how the bull attacked him, why did it attack him?
Well, I don't know. He came with two men you see and they also said that the bull attacked him. He said he was coming home from work and it escaped from further up, over in the bay. My husband says that he was coming home for lunch, and when he saw the bull he started running because the bull wanted to catch him.

When he was working as a watchman?
Yes, of course. He was coming home from work, a bit tipsy and the bull attacked him, this is how it happened, in the same way as it happened to a woman one night. That's what it’s like, son. This bad bull lives in the lake and it gets disturbed. But you don't see it anymore, you know, it’s dead now, because the lake is dead now. There also used to be a hen in the lake, one woman saw a hen. So the following day we went along and we found traces of the hen spat out into the lake - this must have been the devil.
Section 10
And was it a normal hen or much bigger?
How beautiful it must have been, young man, how lovely the lake must have been. These things used to happened but they don’t anymore. I’ve heard nothing like this recently, this used to happen in my day.

Do you tell these stories to your children or to your grandchildren?
To you as well I tell them so that you know what used to happen and of course what can happen, who knows? But people get scared and they get ill like my husband.

Do you think that he became ill because of what happened in the lake?
Yes of course. Because he was drunk the bull punished him and since then we've had to do the judeo.

What's the judeo?
It’s a kind of healing, it’s the judeo with a guinea pig, it’s like a cure, that's what the judeo is, that's what it’s called around here. So they chew their coca (South America shrub, the leaves of which are used as a stimulant or narcotic), with their cigarette with their sugar cane you see, then you pass the guinea pig over your head, then over your feet if you want. Wherever there’s something wrong, the guinea pig will drop dead, that’s it, and when it’s dead you take it away by its foot. This is judeo with guinea-pig and you can do it with a mouse as well. That's how you're cured and you can get better if you do it at the right time, not leave it too long

Is it true that you do judeo with flowers as well?
Yes with flowers as well and they call it chocma. With the flowers you cover your feet with flowers as well young man, with eggs too you can do it.

So you can judeo any person, whatever age they are, even children?
Of course, children too when they’re ill. If the children are ill you can do judeo with someone you know. This is the judeo, young man.

And do they still use this kind of healing now, or do they do it less than in your day?
Of course they still do it, now more than ever, it’s our natural medicine, traditional.

And you never go to doctors?
Yes, as well, but we also use our own cures with the guinea-pig and the coca as I told you. Coca helps us carry on, helps us to keep well. Coca is our companion. That's what it's like.

And do you know how to read coca leaves?
Yes, I learnt from my mother and so now I read them.

And how do you see the future of your community in the coca leaves?
Just the same I think. They say they want to kick us out, that's what's said.
Section 11
Who wants to kick you out?
Centromin, they want to kick us out you see, that's why I go and come back. One day I'll probably come home and I won't have a house, or anything, not even my little animals.

Did you used to rear lambs, Señora?
That's right yes.

How long is it now since you've had sheep or do you still keep them?
I've always had sheep, I mean I always used to keep them because I don’t have any, anymore, I don't have the space now.

You're saying that your sheep aren't here any more?
No now there's no space here as I'm here with my husband there's no more space. And on my own I couldn't look after very many. What's more, there's not very much grass that's any good and so you can't really rear animals. It's not like it was before when you could walk through the fields with your animals. There's no water and there are very few clean streams, so you can't rear animals.

Señora, recently Quiulacocha has been living with contamination, they have been dirtying the lakes and the rivers, what do you think about this?
We think that we have to save the lake. The lake doesn’t look like it used to when I was a child. We have to make them restore it because the water is polluted for the small creatures. We want our environment to be better. The water that comes from the spring is all we have, nothing more. We also have the water that comes from the heap of rocks.

What do your children think? Do they come home to Quiulacocha?
Yes, they come when my husband’s ill. They also came when they were operating on my husband every week. When I’m not feeling well, when I communicate with them, with my children, when I tell them I’m ill, they’re here, they don't leave me [on my own]. Yes, young man, my children are very good.

Señora, are you very accustomed to living here in Quiulacocha?
I'm accustomed to being here because even though I go to Lima to visit, I can’t get used to it, there's too much sand there you see.

Didn't you agree with them leaving Quiulacocha?
No, no young man, I couldn’t get used to anywhere else, nowhere, going for walks, of course, young man, but that's all. Right here I stay you see.

Have you ever tried going somewhere else?
Yes, when my children used to work there in the jungle, in Huallaga, I used to go there. I used to go over there to feed them, young man, but I didn't get accustomed to it. I never got used to it. My son got married there: the youngest has been working there now for almost eight years.

And your husband, what does he think about leaving the community?
He doesn't want to know anything. That's what it’s like when they’re ill. They put on pressure, now we are going to take you away, but he doesn't want to know anything, he doesn't want to know anything. Well, I guess the children can come to see me if they want.
Section 12
And what do your children think about it. Have any of your children said that you should go and live with them?
Of course. Even now, my daughters said, recently my grand-daughters were here and they said they were going to take me with them. My grand-daughter was married to a policeman and now he's died, in Ayacucho, they have given her his house. And so she's always saying to me, let's go to Arequipa, let's go there, you're going to be alone in the house grandma, let's go. But I tell her no. No I say.

Have all your children gone?
Some are nearby in Ucchuchacua, but others are in the jungle, in Lima and so...

Señora, since you were born, you have lived in Quiulacocha. Do you know anything in Quechua? Can you say something to me in Quechua?
Yes, I can speak Quechua very very well: “manam au they say.

“Quiulacocha is a very beautiful village”. How do they say that in Quechua?
“Quiulacocha marcam caichumi achiquiscanua aichumi arichca caichumi aricha huanucha quechua marcami chuilacocha” - this is Quechua young man.

Do your children speak Quechua?
Yes, they speak it, but only a bit, they’re used to Spanish. They don't speak it much here any more.

Very well Señora, is there anything I haven't asked you maybe, or anything else that you know about Quiulacocha?
What more could I tell you “imapatria estatupay amaim la painti unpatum usaim tu mananqui imanescu chamon amim amagamuan contestachiun y maman huata papa huayta pacchu” - that's all young man, now this is all.

And what are you saying Señora?
I'm not going to translate so that you can learn Quechua too. Find out for yourself. I might have insulted you ha...ha...

And could you teach me?
Of course I could teach you, son.

Señora, we're very grateful. It’s been very valuable. I hope to return another day.