On our way back from Bolivia, we stopped in this town for a day just to rest. It's this picturesque little place on the shore of Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru. We first took a train, and then a bus, and finally a boat to Copacabana. Every hostel and hotel was booked, so we stayed in some manager's apartment for the night. Meanwhile, the streets, framed with hundreds of merchants, were flooding with people all the way down the Lake. There was garbage on the ground and sailboats on the water. What sparked our curiosity, however, were the rather atypical items up for purchase on the street: llama fetuses, petrified eagle talons, bottles of worms, good luck charms made of melted foil and many other oddities.
The Holy Spirit definitely drew my attention towards these things. Something felt dark about Copacabana. Similar to the way the brothel in San Jose felt dark. I felt called to explore this further, so Aryk, Lennart, Chris and I went around town investigating. Chris and Aryk prayed protection over Lennart and I from a distance as we asked the various merchants what was the purpose behind these peculiar relics.
Interestingly enough, we discovered, our group arrived here just in time for an Incan holiday. The name escapes me right now, but it's a pilgrimage to this certain hillside overlooking the Lake where one makes a sacrifice to the mother-earth goddess Pachamama (who lived in this region, apparently) for good fortune or to curse those who've wronged them. This information was gathered after half a day of observation and inquiring of the locals; we had no idea when we had first arrived.
The sacrifice was purchased in a strange, up-hill sequence. First, the pilgrim would buy a special paper, flowers and candy for their altar. Then, a llama fetus (Pachamama's favorite animal, according to some local woman) and some other animal part was purchased. A statue of a catholic saint, or the Virgin Mary would stand in the center with the llama. As they ascended the hill, they would purchase toy replicas of houses, people, animals or cars, depending on what they wanted from Pachamama. At the top of the hill, they required the blessing of both an Incan Shaman and a Catholic Priest, before dowsing the altar wine and setting it ablaze. Marijuana may or may not be a requirement, but it was definitely pungent in the air. It was a very detailed and precise ritual, which had to be done correctly, otherwise Pachamama wouldn't help them.
Something we unanimously felt in our spirits was this sense of oppression. These people had to come to this specific town, on a specific hill to make a very specific sacrifice to a specific goddess who wouldn't surely deliver them what they were looking for. It seemed like such bondage. Jesus was with us everywhere. We could come to Jesus in any situation or condition. We didn't need to bring anything special. These people were slaves to a ritual and tradition.
We decided to go to the top of the hill and pray for the city's spiritual freedom. As we ascended, the road became narrower and packed with people. The air became thick with marijuana and the smoke of the offerings. We could hear singing in Quechua, and saw families huddled around their altars. I started to get a panic attack, for a few minutes, but my friends prayed it away. When we reached the top, we sat and overlooked the glittering lake and prayed for the freedom of Jesus.