Discovering Chincha: Peru’s Afro-Peruvian culture, vineyards and Inca ruins

Tambo Colorado ruins, 40 minutes from Chincha.
Visit the Navarro winery, among several in Chincha.

Ruins in Ica
We must take advantage of the light of day to go to Tambo Colorado. The Inca administrative center was in Pisco and it takes about 40 minutes to get there. This way, you can see the ruins more clearly. If the sky is clear, you might be able to see from the Panamericana Sur, some of the Paracas Peninsula and the Ballestas Islands.

What will we see at Tambo Colorado? For starters, pre-Columbian architecture. In the main square there is an “ushnu” (an altar for prayers, ceremonies and sacrifices) to the side whose location is unusual because those are typically in the center. Also, you will see the palace where the Inca or the nobility lived, the observation tower and a drainage system. But lifestyles also stand out. The rooms are larger in the top floors where the Inca slept. Note the reddish color on the interior walls that give the Huaca its name. Finally, be sure to visit the site museum to soak up historical data. “Before the Los Libertadores highway was finished in 1998, the provincial buses drove right across the ruins,” says Liz Quintana, Buganvilla Tours guide. The cultural suicide of which we could have been victims is only perceived once you are standing there.

In the district of Chincha Baja, there is another archeological site called La Centinela, whose exploration has been temporarily abandoned, and has also been apparently uncared for by the Peru’s National Institute of Culture. You can visit it for two soles.

Vineyards in Chincha
In Chincha, there are several small wineries, one of which belongs to Naldo Navarro, but is now managed by Armando Navarro, a member of the fourth generation to take over the farm. There, you can try dry wine, semidry wine and pisco.

Other wineries worth visiting, according to Quintana, are Grimaldi and Viñas de Oro, as well as Tabernero. Cheers! And let’s continue the journey.

Miraculous Melchorita
I see her picture and say, “this woman does have the face of a saint.” This is Melchora Saravia Tasayco (1895 -1951) or Melchorita to the devotees. This servant of God is characterized for having been very charitable in life. Although she is still in the process of beatification, she is quite revered among the people of Chincha and many say they have been granted miracles.

The house that used to be her home is in the Grocio Prado district, a few meters from the Plaza de Armas. Look for the place where her remains were veiled as well as her room. If you would like to embrace the religious aspect and pray, you can do so at her altar. Her remains lie in the parish church San Pedro in Grocio Prado.

At mealtime, satisfy your craving for anticuchos in any of the local picanterías.

Back with the Ballumbrosios
Although the patriarch Amador is no longer here, there is still joy in the Ballumbrosio house. You can feel it even before crossing the threshold of the door. I am received by two of his 15 children, Camilo and Maribel. It has been 10 months since the death of Don Amador, one of the most notable representatives of Afro-Peruvian folklore, but Maribel confesses that she feels as if her father were only gone on a trip. The walls of the house are so full of photographs that his memory is revived.

After the chat, the Ballumbrosio brothers delight visitors with drumming on the Peruvian cajón, dancing zapateo and festejo (a donation to the music is voluntary).

As we say goodbye, Camilo invites us to a later yunsa. He stressed that everyone is welcome: black, brown, white and everything in between.