Posted by: Jessie Kwak | November 26, 2009

Diving deeper into Huanchaco history

We walked into the Muchik Surf School yesterday to ask a few questions about the surfing scene in Huanchaco, and ended up whiling away the afternoon in the company of Margarita and Chicho Huamanchumo.

While we were waiting for Chicho (who along with brother Omar is the main surf instructor), Margarita told us that if we had any questions about Huanchaco she could help us, as she’d been born here.

Huanchaco is a town that is growing at an increasingly breakneck pace, and so to hear that she had been born and raised here piqued my interest. “How long has your family lived here?” I asked.

“Over four thousand years,” Margarita said with pride. “We’ve lived in Chan Chan since the pre-Inca times.” Two and a half hours and 6 pages of scrawled notes later, Rob and I emerged into the sunlight with a much deeper picture of the area’s history from some of its most knowledgeable inhabitants.

We first met Margarita the first day we arrived in Huanchaco, when we stopped by Muchik looking for leads on an apartment. She called Johnny, who eventually took us to the place we’re renting now. We’ve exchanged smiles and waves from then on, but this was the first time we’d really sat down and talked with her.

She’s a friendly woman with a passion for this place and a deep knowledge of the place which she attributes to her grandfather’s stories. The Huamanchumo family is one of two remaining families still living in the Huanchaco area.

Chicho told us this story about their origins:

They say that the god Naylamp was sailing down the coast, from Tumbes to Lima, discovering new places and founding new cities. When he came to the peninsula of Huanchaco they saw that the cove was filled with abundant and delicious fish, types they had never seen before.

Naylamp and his warriors made an offering and called the place “Wuankarute,” which in the Muchik language means “The lagoon of the golden fish.” Naylamp left to continue his quest down the coast, but three warriors stayed to found the village of Huanchaco, and the civilizations of the Moche and Chimu.

The warriors were Guaman-Chumu, Shilmaza, and one more whose line has disappeared. The descendents of Shilmaza live now in Huanchaquito, and those of Guaman-Chumu (which means “the bird that flies,” said Margarita) now run a surf school in Huanchaco, just a few meters off the beach where the warrior originally set foot in his new homeland.


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