The Princess Huacachina, Comparing Versions of a Tale
(Translated and adapted from several versions by Randall Imel)
Pre-reading: 1. What do you know about Lake Huacachina?
2. Why did people worship the Moon and the Sun?
What do these words mean?
generous governed protecting arrow lure
Long ago in Ica lived a wise, generous and kind Inca. He was a powerful lord and governed his kingdom with wisdom, generosity and kindness. He was the Master of Ica. He had a pretty daughter named Huacachina. (Huacachina is a Quechua language word: wakay means to cry and china means young woman). She was engaged to be married with a soldier who was fighting a battle against the Chinchas.
One day, a soldier named Ukañan came from the battle with bad news. He said that they had lost the battle against the Chinchas and that also, the Princess’ fiancé had died in the battle.
The Princess heard the news and went to cry in the desert. One legend says that as she walked, her tears formed a lake.
Ukañan, who wanted to marry the Princess went after her. He saw her sitting under a Huarango tree combing her hair. He watched her and silently started walking towards the sad Princess. The moon was shining; Shinam the Moon Goddess was watching, protecting the young woman.
The princess’ father, Master of Ica, was very worried about his daughter so he sent soldiers to the desert to look for the Princess and bring her back to the palace.
It was dark and the Princess thought she must go back home. As she was drying her tears, and combing her hair, she looked at herself in a mirror and saw Ukañan silently walking towards her. She was frightened and ran away. Seeing her run away from him, Ukañan became very angry with her. She prayed to the Moon Goddess to save her from this man.
“HUACA SHINAM! HUACA SHINAM !” she cried. Shinam the Goddess, was watching everything.
Just then, the soldiers that the Master of Ica had sent, saw Ukañan chasing the Princess Huacachina. Ukañan fell on the sand when he saw the soldiers coming. Suddenly, this bad man stood up, thinking “If she is not mine, she will not belong to anyone else,” and shot an arrow at the princess. Before the arrow hit the Princess, Shinam, the Moon Goddess turned the princess’ mirror into a lake where she fell and disappeared.
At this very moment many arrows hit Ukañan, who fell dead on the sand.
Days later the Princess’ fiancé came back to Ica and heard about what had happened. Sadly, he went to the lake. There, he heard a sweet voice calling him and coming out of the water was his beloved princess. She hugged him and took him into the lake where both disappeared. Some say there is a wonderful palace at the bottom of the lake, and Huacachina rises and sings to Huaca Shinam. She may lure a stranger into the lake to drown and be a sacrifice to Huaca Shinam.
(The following version was given to Randall Imel by several students of English at ICPNA Miraflores)
Huacachina is the name of a famous lake in the area of Ica. The water of the lake is green and medicinal.
The legend says that a long long time ago there was a little well. Around the well grew a special plant, the carob. At this place, a beautiful girl enjoyed washing with the fresh water.
One day, before she dipped into the water, the princess stopped and looked at herself in the reflection of her mirror. She was contemplating her beauty in the mirror. Suddenly, she saw a figure of something behind her, a hunter watching her. She was surprised to see the hunter and quickly ran to save herself. With only a sheet wrapped around her, and nowhere to go, she magically turned into the sand.
Now that she had turned into sand, and the hunter couldn’t find her, she was safe. Then in the gently flowing currents of the well, the princess, now in the form of sand gently swirled around a branch. The mirror that the princess was holding turned into the lake and then the princess turned into a siren and she lived deep in the waters of the lake, now called Huacachina. To this day the medicinal plants that grow around the lake and special powers of the waters there protect people from harm and sickness.
STILL ANOTHER VERSION:
Lago Huacachina: Lake of Tears
According to local legion a young woman and her lover walked in the country near Ica. Just before they were married, he died.
The young woman was so full of sadness that she walked through the countryside, going to the same place as she had been with her lover. As she walked, her tears formed a lake.
One day, by the lake, an evil spirit in the form of a man tried to rape her.
She jumped into the lake’s waters, imploring the water gods to protect her. She was saved from the man, but she drowned in the lake. Now, every full moon, she floats over Lago Huacachina, dressed in sparkling white light. Many say she drowns moonlight swimmers, as a sacrifice to the water gods who protect her.
1. Do you understand the story? Refer to the first version.
1. What does Ukañan say happened to Huacachina’s fiancé?
2. What happens to Huacachina after she goes to cry?
3. Who saves her from the bad man, Ukañan?
II. Vocabulary: Use these words in the sentences
generous governed protecting arrow disappeared lure
1. The two of them ____________________ into the lake.
2. The Master __________________ over the area.
3. He was _________________ and gave the people food.
4. She would call and ________________someone into the water.
5. The bad man shot an _____________ at her to kill her.
6. The goddess Shinam was _______________ Huacachina.
III. Oral Skills: In groups, tell the story from beginning to end, taking turns.
IV. Compare the three versions
Read the three stories and choose one way they are different. Write it down. Which version do you like better? Explain why.
1. Write a different ending for this story.
2. Write a summary of one of the versions.
3. Write a story about someone almost drowning at night in that lake.
VII. Role Play: Create role plays.
1. Ukañan & the Master of Ica: Ukañan is telling the news
2. Ukañan & Huacachina: they are arguing under the tree.
3. Huacachina & her fiancé: They argue about his coming into the lake.
4. Huacachina & her father: he does not want her to marry a soldier.
5. Huacachina & her soldier meeting on the side of the lake.