Legend of the Choqueyapu Treasure

Version rewritten by N. Brachet, based on the book "Leyendas de mi tierra"
of Antonio Diaz Villamil (Libreria - Editorial "Juventud")

An old hermit used to live alone with his dog in the mountain a few miles away from a village where he visited from time to time to renew his stock of food and clothing. The man was not very talkative, and nobody really knew who he was. Some jealous people spred rumors that this insane old man was probably an incredibly fortunate miner considering the gold nuggets that he used to pay his purchases. The villagers who envied such richness, many times sought to discover the secrets of the treasure of the hermit. But in vain. The man was extremely careful, and protected his house property from the covetous spies with an old rifle and his faithful watchdog.

One day, the hermit suddenly stopped his visits at the village. It was his dog which came instead and presented a few gold nuggets and a list of purchases of medecine prescribed by his Master. The rumors that the old man was suffering a serious disease started to quickly spread among the villagers, and everyone took their weapons, and rushed to the hermit's residence hoping to steal his treasures.

Two teenagers from the village were living by themselves after the tragic death of their sick parents. The villagers remained totally indifferent to the distress of the orphans who lived in extreme poverty and hardly managed to survive. The two kids heard with sadness the news about the hermit's disease, which reminded them of their parents who gave them love and happiness until the last moments of their life. The two orphans then decided to sell one of their rare goods to buy a fresh milk jug for the old hermit.

The villagers found the feverish hermit lying on his bed, his dog was faithful sleeping over his feet. None of them came to help the old sick man, all precipitated inside the house and started searching for the famous treasure. Unfortunately for them, they were no able to find any gold nugget... They had to admit that the old man was dying after having spent his last gold nuggets. Furious and with empty hands, they went back to the village leaving the hermit failing on his bed. The two orphans, who arrived later in the hermit's house, discovered the poor man on the bed in the middle of a devastated room. They stayed on his bedside and generously offered to the old man all the care and comfort that he needed. After a few days, the hermit recovered most of his forces. He was so touched by the love and the generosity of the two orphans that he proposed to adopt them as is they were his own children.

The hermit told the history of his life to the two children, describing how much he suffered from the cruelty, selfishness and greed of the people who made him lose the only valuables he had in the world, i.e. his wife and her two children. and led it to He had to exile himself in this isolated place. By chance, while he was digging the foundations of his house, he discovered a large secret room sheltering a treasure of gold nuggets. The invaluable ore probably originated from the Choqueyapu river at the time of the great civilization of Tiwanaku.

A few days later, the hermit sent the two children to the village to buy some food and clothing. The villagers reacted with stupor when they saw the two children, usually so miserable, getting from their pockets two enormous gold nuggets in order to pay their purchases. They immediately realized that the hermit's treasure still existed and decided to return to the hermit's house and to use the force to obtain his secrecy.

When they arrived at the hermit's place, they found the hermit and the two children at the door entrance. They used their weapons to threaten the hermit, and the poor man had to reveal the location of the hidden treasure room. He opened the trap door and all the villagers rushed into the underground room. The villagers were all so excited by so much richness, that they started to kill each over to tear off the gold nuggets. As he was attending this pitiful fight, the hermit picked up a few small bags of gold nuggets (just enough to ensure a modest existence with his two children) from the treasure room and closed the trap door. Then, he pulled down the walls of his house which collapsed and buried forever the villagers trapped in their gilded tomb.

The hermit, the two children and their dog left the area towards better horizons, also leaving behind them the secret of the Choqueyapu treasure.

The history of the city of Paz is closely related to Choqueyapu river since the capital was built on the river banks which were very famous in the past for containing a huge quantity of golden ore.