I watched Jesus carrying his cross around the plaza, being pursued by two Roman centurions whilst his followers wept. As he was being lifted on the cross, covered in mock blood, a man approached me and asked if I spoke Spanish and would I mind being interviewed for local radio about my thoughts on the proceedings. I tried to explain that this was very different to Easter in England where everyone is probably surrounded by chocolate and bunnies right now.
But I didn't come here to take part in a Monty Python sketch. Few Europeans will have heard of Cajamarca, and very few actually come here, but I came here to stand on the spot where a different story played out, and pay my respects to the people all around the world who have suffered under European colonisation.
In 1532, Francisco Pizarro rode into Cajamarca's main plaza with only 168 men. They were surrounded by at least 8000 Indians, all loyal to the Inca Emperor Atahualpa who was here to bathe a war wound in the nearby thermal springs. The Indians had never seen horses before, nor steel swords, nor books since writing had never been developed here. When Atahualpa was presented with a bible he threw it to the ground. This enraged the Spaniards and sent them on a rampage, slaughtering over a thousand Indians and capturing Atahualpa in the process. With the Inca Empire overthrown, 12,000 years of human history in South America was brought abruptly to a close.
A week ago, a dark skinned woman sat next to me in Huaraz and tried to sell me some sort of home-made corn snacks. She asked me for a piece of the bread that I was eating, so I obliged. She asked me what it was called, and I could tell that Spanish was not her first language but she was a Quechua speaker. When I showed her the packet, she asked me again what it was called, and I realized then of course that she couldn't read. And whilst the Easter processions were taking place in Cajamarca, I watched tall-hatted, woolly-stockinged indigenous women desperately trying to sell corn snacks and handicrafts; and the older ones were begging or rummaging through litter bins for plastic bottles.
The true people of this land saw little change in 1532. They were oppressed by the Incas; they were oppressed by the Spaniards; and they are oppressed still. You see some wonderful things when travelling, but there are some bad things too. Many are blind to it, but I can never come to the Americas and ignore the 500 years of injustice that is still going on.
"The life of a single human being is worth a million times more than all the property of the richest man on earth." - Che Guevara, Argentine Revolutionary, 1928-1967