Apurimac’s most dynamic city shows off the traces of a place that had a period of height and downfall throughout its history, from the Colonial period onwards. This city was essentially the site of negotiations, transactions, entertainment, and contact with the rest of the world of a narrow-minded and abusive landowning class. Here are remains of a rural feud that left an infamous legacy of so much exclusion, racism and oppression until the Agrarian Reform took place (which didn’t resolve sustainable.) Abancay can be seen and visited now as part of a crucial period in Peru’s history.
Some facts about thecity: Abancay in the capital of the Apurimac Region with a population of 51 thousand, according to the 2007 census. The city is located in an inter-Andean valley, at 2.380 meter of altitude, at the shores of the Mantarto River. The weather is mild and dry, with the rainy season going from December to April. The city’s main economic activities are commerce, mining, agriculture, and tourism to a lesser extent, that helped overcome tha dark years of the internal war during the late 20th century. Today Abancay welcomes visitors with open arms.
The city and its surroundings
Under a very conventional point of view, tourism-wise, Abancay is not the hottest place in the southern Andean region. There is no especially preserved architecture or amazing archaeological sites, neither an amount of services that prettyful people are so fond of. However, it is a quite interesting place that suggest as the ending point of an escape from Cusco, and that should take at least two days and one night (without including the Choquequirao trek that starts in the leg between both cities.) Abancay has a delicious climate and an incomparable food offer, thanks to the diversity of people that migrated. During tha carnivals it’s worth renting a balcony to watch. But its history, full of visible and vivid testimonies, is probably the most attractive feature of this Andean region.
You are in the southern Andes, where there is a magnificent pre-Hispanic past and an important Colonial agriculture, mainly based on sugarcane production that triggered a huge wealth on a feudal hacienda system, where the landowner dominated his territory as the absolute lord and master. The local stories told in Abancay’s academic circles about the importance of sugar, from the 16th century to our days, and of the explotation of the indigenous population, shape an exceptional framework to understand the place where you are. It’s obvious there is a good amount of sociological, historical and anthropological works about this subject. There is also literary works, featuring José María Arguedas’ books, the voice that spoke on behalf of oppressed indigenous people and that built bridges between them and modern society in a quest to find their identity. To read Arguedas, during or after your visit to Abancay, will bring you closer to a world where appearance hides a cluster of old cosmovisions unscathed despite the feudal hacienda produced huge amounts of aguardiente-caña liquors-to pay off peasant’s work with it, in order to control and make tyhem dependant. I strongly recommend you to talk about this and other subjects with Ciro Palomino, a very knowledgeable friend about the local history, without mystifications but with a lot of love for his land. Likewise, you can also consult the Biblioteca Especializada de Apurimac (Apurimac’s Specialized Library), donated by an Austrian named Rainer Hostnig. It is located at the city’s Casa de la Cultura (Cultural House, on Avenida Cusco.)