Just look it up and Download it over the Internet
“Just look it up and download it over the Internet.”
These are the riveting words reverberating in my ear uttered by the custodian-bouncer of Andahuaylillas church.
It was his response to my plea for even just only three precious souvenir shots of the church’s interior – highly embellished with folksy gold leaf, gilded carvings and framings with Flemish style paintings. I shall not describe anymore for it will just whet everyone’s appetite. In photography, it takes a pool of more than 10 shots to get the best.
The 16th century church is mysteriously situated in a very poor sleepy town I wonder how the church accumulated its wealth.
It’s no doubt very popular with tourists, serious or just plain curious.
In effect, he was saying don’t come to Andahuaylillas. It would be much simpler and easier to be an armchair tourist and enjoy the pictures in the comforts of home internet surfing. That’s one statement coming from what amounts to a characteristic of the proverbial ungrateful dog “that bites the hand that feeds it”.
He is actually the best face to promote his town and his country suggesting “Do not come to Andahuaylillas, and don’t ever come to Peru!”
We arrive there in the early afternoon and were met by this bouncer, a burly beer-bellied goon-looking forty-ish guy with oriental eyes. Somehow, he reminded me of a villain in a Kung Fu movie. He issued S/.4.00 (nuevo soles) for an entrance fee ticket. I gathered he was contracted by the parish priest to guard the church and charge visitors. At once, he notified me of the church’s policy of no photo shooting, whatever circumstances it may be.
I persuaded him that I traveled thousands of miles away, spent a fortune coming to this town and interested on doing a research, at the same time into photography. Internet pictures are not of high quality and of lower resolution but he wouldn’t cave-in.
If that’s the case, a cat can be skinned in so many ways, we clandestinely contracted the other guards deployed at every nook and cranny. It was a mission impossible operation; the appointed time was tomorrow, 3:00 pm.
Because of the heavy traffic in the midst of the Inti Raymi festival in Cuzco, we were not able to squeezed out of the city in due time and unfortunately arrived almost 5:00 pm.
We were outraced. He’s already there. At the entrance door, he stood with his prominent bulging tummy, an intimidating presence. My plan was screwed up.
Determined, I set up another date, Sunday. I shall return.
It was devastating. Still a wrong timing, it happened to be a heavy and busy visiting day. Busloads of tourists were coming in and out.
Operation cancelled. I returned back asking these questions.
Am I really offending the sensibilities of the locals for disturbing the sacredness of this place?
Am I acting rudely as an unwanted intruder and pillager, raping and plundering the most precious treasure of this town?
What about these busloads of tourists carrying heathens and gentiles clad in their spaghetti straps, low-riding short shorts, and slippers boisterously admiring the artworks while the guide lectures loudly? Does it not compromise the sanctity of the place?
Photography no, immodesty, yes – the locals are offended by cameras, not by skimpy attire.
For me, this church has been prostituted beyond control yet pretending to be pristine. It doesn’t matter now, it looks to me it’s a cheap whorehouse complete with cover charges and a tough bouncer. You can come in any get up, shirtless and slippers are welcome, just don’t bring any camera.
But why be hypocrite? If it’s just all about money, then why don’t these parishioners come up with a benevolent and just policy and demand photo fees? After all, money talks and has been talking ever since.
I hope this observation will reach the church authorities on this bouncer’s demented policy.
Peru is just one country vying for my attention and my pocketbook. I will surely love to come to place where I am welcome.
I came, I saw, but I didn’t conquer!