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STORIES OF DEVILS AND CHULLPAS

Fervent devotees of the Virgin of the Candelaria - the Patron Saint worshipped by the city of Puno - the demon in the awful mask is entrusted to God in the atrium of the Cathedral...

The holiday of the Virgin of the Candelaria is about to end, although a handful of devils want the flame of happiness and faith to keep burning during all the month of February. Their intents are vain, but, when accompanying them in their coming and going, you discovered some of the attractiveness of the capital of the highlands.

The following day - between yawns and expressions of fatigue - the traveler that followed the dancers, haeds on for Sillustani, the most important archaeological area in the department of Puno.

The city sleeps. The rain accompanies its dreams with a melody of drops that dance on the roofs or tap on the red tiles. In the dreamy streets, a handful of demons dancers and haggarders seek to wake up the town with their whispers of drunkenness, wrapped in their serpentine scarfs and hidden behind their frightful colored masks.

They dance, jump and sing. They run to the Plaza de Armas and take possession of it. They toast for their success. Bustle, happiness, disorder... and one of the devils of the night in the highland, slips away among the shadows to prostrate in front of a cross. He takes off the mask, blesses himself, mumbles a few sentences, beats his chest. Tears of faith dampen his very dry cheekbones.

Fervent devotees of the Virgin of the Candelaria - the Patron Saint worshipped by the city of Puno - the demon in the awful mask is entrusted to God in the atrium of the Cathedral, a colossus of stones of creole style, built in 1747 by the Peruvian alarife Simón de Asto, on the foundations of the old Supay Cancha or the devil's fence.

Prayers over. The devil puts his mask on again and returns to his partners to continue with the dance and toasts in honor to the "mom" or in quechua "Mamacha" Candelaria; but they are no longer so many. Your compatriots are asleep and you don't want to wake them up. The party languishes after several days of processions, folk dreeses and agile dancers' endless parades, coming from all around the city.

In Puno, the folck capital of America, there are more than 300 representative dances. One of the best known is the "Diablada", which is a dance of creole origin representing the eternal conflict between good and evil... in which groups of men and women, with showy suits and demon masks, face earthly and mundane archangels, surrounded by leaders and terrible bears.

The infernal group abandons the square leaving behind the imposing Cathedral and the carved wooden balcony of the Count of Lemos, the viceroy that founded the city November 4 1688. Then, the children of the wicked one, come and go along Jiron Lima, a pedestrian passage of old large houses transformed into stores, restaurants, discos and commercial galleries.

And while keeping silent in Saint John the Baptist church, so as not to wake up the Virgin de la Candelaria who rests inside the temple... and disappear behind the arch Deustua, a monster of figured stone and two lateral arbors built in 1847, in memory of the men that died in the battles of Junín and Ayacucho, heroic gestures that sealed the independence of America.

The demons failed in their intent to prolong the festivities. The streets are empty, solitary and bare, when extinguishing the last ashes of the party. Now, the cold gets worse at the hand of the wind, the rain becomes torrential and stormy, the height becomes heavier. Soroche (bad of height) is about. Sleep patrols. The city sleeps after several nights of insomnia.

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A glance to Sillustani

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