In the summer of 1995, I traveled to the northern rim of the Colca Canyon, in Arequipa, Peru, accompanied by my daughter Tina and Carlos Machicao, a colleague and friend who at the time, used to teach civil engineering at Arequipa's National University of San Agustin. Our party included a driver and a local guide.

We left Arequipa early on the morning of July 28, and after several hours of arduous travel across deep canyons and majestic mountaintops, managed to reach a town where we found many people gathered in the main plaza, celebrating the anniversary of Peruvian Independence.

Unaware of our exact whereabouts, I introduced myself to a lady in the crowd and asked her the name of the town. She said: "This is Machahuay."

I asked her: "Is this the town that the "Mambo de Machahuay" was named after?

She answered: "You are quite right."

We were pleasantly surprised and proceeded to engage the locals in spirited conversation. Later on, our party climbed a nearby hill to get a better view of the breathtaking surroundings. Once there, we sang, at full volume, the "Mambo de Machahuay."

The experience was one that would be hard to forget.


[Interpreted by  Luis Abanto Morales]

Desde Lima vengo a mi Machahuay,
a bailar el mambo con mi cholitay,
río de Puyurca déjame pasar,
voy a visitarla a mi cholitay.

Mambo, qué rico mambo,
mambo de Machahuay!
Mambo, qué rico mambo,
mambo de Machahuay!

A la media noche voy a regresar,
amarra tu perro me vaya a morder,
a mi viraqueña la voy a llevar,
llegando ya a Lima la voy a dejar.


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A herd of llamas at Viraco, near Machahuay, on the northern rim of the Colca Canyon, Arequipa, Peru.