I was walking with two friends, Nelly and Amy, along a type of lake formation in the sacred valley of the Incas in Peru. I had already been in Peru for several months as a solo traveler, so having company to go see the sights away from the normal touristy stuff was pretty exciting.
This time, however, it was particularly creepy since we truly had no connection to the civilized world and we were all foreigners, another girl from the U.S. and a girl from France.
For those of you who may not know, Peru has several towns along the huge valley that runs along the country. This has mainly small towns with small shops, poorly lit roads with many potholes, and the traditional farmers who travel to sell their own produce to the larger towns and cities almost every day.
We had gotten dropped off in Chinchero, and planned to go back later that evening. We decided to go exploring. Google Maps has this cool thing that lets you download maps on an iPhone so you don’t need a connection to see it, and when I checked mine, I saw that there was a lake nearby. We decided right away that we wanted to go and got on a taxi to take us there.
The guy seemed confused at first and didn’t know where we were going to go, or how to find an entrance to the lake. We later found out that the lake wasn’t made for tourists and it had a lot of mud and dry grass all around it, so getting up to the shore was almost impossible. Once we got to the entrance by a little boathouse type of thing, we told the taxi that we would find our way back and he left us. It was a peaceful type of silence, knowing that you’re so far away from all noises and city activity.
We walked around until we realized that there wasn’t much we could do there. We started messing around taking pictures and making fun of Amy, since she was the daredevil of the group and would jump between the ditches and would get scared after every sound we heard. There may have been snakes all around there, but there the dry grass was so tall that we would never be able to tell.
The sun was setting and we got distracted with our photos. Since we were in a deep valley, the sun sets earlier. Well, not really sets, but the mountains block the sun earlier than if you were in an area with a flat horizon.
We wanted to go back to the town, but we had two ways to do it. Either we went back along where the driver dropped us off, or we could get some more exploration done if we worked our way back to town away from the road and along what seemed to be dirt roads that led into the hills.
We chose the dirt roads, since we had about an hour until we would be in complete darkness. We figured we would be able to make it.
It was a nice walk, but we really didn’t know where we were going since the map only showed a general direction on where the town was, but the dirt roads weren’t labeled and sometimes they would curve out away from the town. We only hoped that they would eventually wind the right away gain.
Reaching the top of the hills was always nice because you would be able to get a clearer view on where you were. But when I reached the top first, I noticed a man coming toward us from the side of the road.
I asked him, in Spanish, how to get back to the town. He was surprisingly nice, but very curious. He didn’t raise suspicion, and he actually turned out to be very nice.
We followed him toward his house, where we met his wife and children. It may sound fake at this point, but people in Peru are very hospitable and it isn’t weird at all to invite people over. We didn’t go inside, though. We stayed outside, took a couple of pictures, and agreed to come back for a type of meal that gets cooked underground, in a pit, traditional of Peruvian people. I forgot the name of it now, but we were all very excited and agreed to it.
It had already gotten dark outside, but Eddy (the farmer we had just met) mentioned that we should be careful of the little people. The word in Spanish for it is “duende”, which means goblin. He said it with an odd seriousness that made me question what he was talking about. He wasn’t the first person to mention the goblins in South America.
I asked him who they were, and he said that they are little people that live in tiny caves deep in the mountains. He said that sometimes they come by and steal animals, though they have been known to kidnap kids. Someone else had told me that they come from deformed fetuses that women leave to die out in the hills. I was expecting the farmer to laugh or something to relieve the tension, since we were all a bit freaked out by his seriousness.
But his expression never changed.
He was genuinely concerned about the goblins and I think he really wanted us to be careful.
We started walking back, with not much to say. We just wanted to get back to the road, which we eventually found by following the lights and sounds of the occasional truck passing by. We wanted to hop on a taxi, but he was trying to rip us off, so we decided to walk back and try to find a hostel on our own. We knocked around some doors, but not many people would answer.
In the dark streets, I would sometimes look out to the hills and find some figure moving. Maybe my mind was beginning to play tricks on me.
We eventually found a hostel and spent the night there. It was nothing great, and we had very crappy wifi, but at least we were able to send a message out to the rest of our friends to let them know where we were.
The whole night I kept thinking about the goblins. Ever since then, I’ve asked many farmers and old people about goblins. They all have told me the same thing: that they do exist and that they live in the mountains. They have very compelling videos and pictures. Those who have seen the goblins and want to remember them, have actually drawn them out with pen and paper. They all seem to have a type of straw hat, and they have short, stubby, legs.
My girlfriend’s family swears to have had encounters with goblins in the past. They described the thing as a small, old-looking man, with sinister laughter who can scatter like a cockroach when you turn on the light.
I still don’t know if I believe that they exist, but I know that there is a lot of land in the hills in the valleys of Peru, some undisturbed for centuries… the famous tourist attraction, Macchu Picchu, was discovered recently, anyway. Who knows what happens in the darkness of the hills… in the lands that haven’t yet been explored.