Santuario de la Verónica

Last time I was in Peru, I visited the Santuario de la Verónica.

My friend Jennifer (whom I met during my first trip to Peru in 2018) had a birthday. She wanted to treat herself to a stay at Mount Veronica , and she invited me to join her. I had never heard of it but answered yes without hesitating. Of course, I wanted to celebrate with her and visit a new place. For me, exploring new sites is an adventurous geography class.

Arriving there, I was mesmerized by the beauty. The Sanctuary was a hidden gem, and the snow-covered beauty resembled a sugar peak. I would probably not have discovered it without that invitation.

Mount Veronica (5,860 meters above sea level) towers over the Sacred Valley, near Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. The peak is the highest of the Urubamba mountain range, locally known as Cordillera Urubamba.

Mount Veronica, or Wakay Wilka as originally called in Quechua, means Sacred Tears. The Spanish named her “Veronica” during the conquest. Wakay Wilka mountain had great ceremonial significance for the Incas and was considered the protector of agriculture. It is said that the mountain has feminine energy, and this is how mystical tour guides describe the legend of that mountain:

“The classic story of the brothers who take different paths: They say that Salkantay Mountain and Ausangate Mountain were two brothers who lived in Cusco. After a harsh drought, the brothers ventured into unknown lands on a quest to save themselves and their people. Salkantay left for the north and found the jungle, and there the legend of the forbidden love of Mount Veronica was born. Ausangate went south to the highlands and found great production of Andean products and sent camelid meat, corn, potatoes, and other crops. This way he could save Cusco. After leaving Qosqo Valley in search of food for his people, Salcantay arrived in the land of the Antis, where he met the beautiful young princess Huaynawillca. The two fell in love on the spot, to the disapproval of the warrior Anti people, who decided to expel Salcantay from their lands. Faced with the threat to their love, the two decided to flee towards the Qosqo Valley, where Salcantay was respected, and they could live together forever. However, the Anti people, feeling mocked, chased the bride and groom to the peaks of the mountain range, where they sacrificed their princess, preferring her dead than in the arms of Salcantay. The Cusco warrior, furious at the death of his beloved, began a fierce fight against the Anti people, whom he completely exterminated. The gods, faced with such great bloodshed, decided to turn Salcantay into a mountain so that he would not do more harm to men, could feed his people, and take care of Huaynawillca, who was also turned into a mountain. The only “proof” of this legend is that both mountains are in the Cusco region.”

During that unforgettable weekend at The Verónica Sanctuary, run by the warm-hearted Bellota family, I discovered all about Mount Veronica and its legend. I learned why the Bellota family has invested in that place, as well as their purpose, mission, and vision for the Sanctuary at the foot of Mount Veronica. I wanted to share their story ( through this interview) with those who see the wholeness in such investment and work—people who want to live from ecotourism and have a sustainable lifestyle.

Once again, the great mystery led me to new people who had chosen change rather than continuing a dissatisfying life (I met several of them during my last trip to Peru)—people who were unhappy where they were and chose to take a different direction. They inspired me to make an interview series to show that change is possible. 

Familien Bellota is number 3 in my series of people who have stepped in to create change when life has become stagnant and unfulfilling. If you missed my first and second interviews in this series, you can watch them here. All I could do was dreaming  & Amazonas in darkness and light

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