Thursday, May 7, 2015

The unique history of the village of Santos Vera

Disclaimer – The following information regarding the man Santos Vera Sandoval came from various sources. Some of it is fact...some probably legend. I haven't bothered to try to sort it out.

On November 1, 1933 Santos Vera Sandoval was born in the city of Tùcume.  Beginning at around age eight Santos’ grandfather, who was regarded as one of the area’s most powerful bruhos (feel free to substitute warlock, wizard, shaman or sorcerer) took Santos under his wing and began instruction in ‘brujeria’ – witchcraft.  Santos was fascinated with the art; studied hard and before long gained the reputation of a powerful bruho (bruha is the feminine form) in his own right. That reputation was further enhanced when Santos’ grandfather died and bequeathed to him all of his paraphernalia including a staff said to have come from one of the Tùcume pyramids. 

Santos prospered as a bruho. He accepted cash and other considerations for his services, which included divining, healing, exorcism, and counseling in family matters. He sometimes performed his services with the use of the hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus. Natural plant concoctions were normally part of his prescribed cures.

At some point he and his family moved from the city of Tùcume to a large expanse of land just north of the Tùcume pyramid complex and Purgatory Mountain, an area regarded as sacred and spiritual. Santos named the new community Fundo Vera, fundo generally meaning a community owned by one man or family. The community is still referred to as Fundo Vera by some, but officially and to most locals it is Santos Vera. The road through the village doesn’t see much traffic. We walked about a mile to another village to get a mototaxi ride back to Tùcume.

It is well known that bruhos are competitive with and jealous of each other, and it is said that Santos had many battles with other bruhos jealous of his popularity.  Bruhos don’t fight physically…instead it is a mental contest done at a distance. Santos always prevailed. On September 9, 1993 Santos died. His remains were placed in a tomb in the Tùcume cemetery. In early 2004 the tomb of Santos was broken into and his head removed. Bruhos believe that the power of a bruho is resident in the brain, even after death so it is suspected that one or more bruhos desecrated the tomb to gain Santos’ power.

Santos is said to have had thirteen children, one of whom, Orlando Vera continues the practice of witchcraft handed down to him by his father. He describes himself as a master healer and spiritual guide. Orlando has a website, and a residence and small museum in Santos Vera containing the ritual articles used by him and his father.

Orlando isn’t the only Santos descendant active in Santos Vera. A niece is the director of the pronoei "Mi Mundo Fantastico", an attractive and reasonably well maintained school on the northern edge of the village surrounded by fields of corn and cotton.  

Maria Bravo Vera was born in Santos Vera and has been the director at the pronoei for three years. She has 22 students ages 3 to 5. When we entered the school she was reading a book to the kids with the theme of working hard to realize dreams, and used finger puppets to keep the kids focused on the story. 

The school is reasonably well equipped. Parents are able to provide basic school supplies, and using her own money Maria has accumulated some books and playthings. The only issues she has is the lack of storage and not enough tables and chairs. She’s using government supplied gym equipment as storage shelves and would like to free them up for their original purpose. One of the four tables needs to be replaced, and many chairs are on the verge of not being serviceable. She has asked us for two storage shelves, twelve chairs and three tables. That’s a modest request that would cost about $200 including transportation and we’re going to do that. If you’d like to contribute to this project please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.

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