Constructed around the foothills of a gigantic mountain that was completely stuff to the balls with silver ore, Potosi, Peru, was one of the most populous and richest cities in the world in the 1600s. It also happened to be one of the most gangsta outlaw cities in the New World, with unscrupulous money-grubbing barons and assholes mining bosses all ruthlessly battling each other for position, hardened manual laborers blowing their new-found riches on booze, gambling, and women, and back-alley ball-shanking banditos seeking to profit from all the horrible illegal shit that goes along with big city living in 17th-century frontier South America. The town had a massive rich-poor divide, with the aristocratic Spaniard families throwing humongous Antonio Banderas Mask of Zorro style parties like all the fucking time, while around the corner it was something out of goddamn Desperado with a gang of dudes beating the ever-loving holy shit out of each other with swords and pistols in a badass street-clearing brawl. The massive city had a population larger than London and was home to fourteen dancing schools, thirty-six gambling halls, countless bars and brothels, a Catholic cathedral, a theater, and a bullfighting ring, and this place was so intense that the fucking Town Council members typically held session while wearing chainmail shirts under their clothing (Red Wedding style). According to one man who visited Potosi in the 1650s, “nearly [everyone] wore three or four rough leather jackets, one on top of the other, as protection from sword stabs,” which honestly kind of makes the place sound like a weird mix between Unforgiven and The Outsiders if it was directed by Robert Rodriguez. One thing was for certain – adventure, death, vast riches and horrible sword-related piece-by-piece dismemberment awaited adventurers at every turn, and the entire place had a live fast die young mentality that would make it the perfect town if you wanted to run a colonial South America Pathfinder module.
And at the heart of all that sword-swinging drunken street brawl motherfucking mayhem stood two of the most famous warriors in the history of Peru – Dona Ana Lezama de Urinza and Dona Eustaquia de Sonza, the flamboyant lesbian lover vigilante swordswoman duelists who traveled the land like cowboy Batgirls honing their swordfighting skills against any motherfuckers dumb enough to try and fuck with them.
Ana Lezama de Urinza was born on the streets of Potosi, Peru, sometime in the 1600s. All we really know about her background is that she grew up an orphan, fighting for survival in one of the toughest cities on the planet and scrounging her way through life, until one day she somehow befriended the woman who would eventually become her hot girl-on-girl lover – the Dona Eustaquia de Sonza, daughter of the powerful Spanish aristocrat Don de Sonza. Eustaquia lived in a fucking awesome villa overlooking the city, wore the finest silks and jewels, and basically got to drink solid gold martinis while a half-dozen servants fanned her with giant feather dusters, and the two girls became such close friends that when Ana was 12 she was formally adopted into the household of the Don de Sonza.
Ana and Eustaquia spent most of their time being trained by in boring shit like how to sew and cook and plant flowers or whatever the fuck else, but what they were really actually interested in doing was learning how to beat the shit out of people with a sword and then dance a promiscuous tango over their still-warm corpses. Eustaquia’s brother was being trained in fencing by an ultra-intense Spanish sword master, and the two girls would always make a point of hanging out so they could watch his lessons. Well, sadly, the brother died one day for some reason that was never really explained to me and that I didn’t bother investigating, but the upshot was that the sword master was already basically on the family payroll already so Dad was just like fuck it and had him teach the girls instead. By the time these young women were thirteen, they were already tits-deep in intense fencing lessons under one of South America’s most prestigious sword masters. And when this guy wasn’t teaching them how to crack skulls with a rapier he was giving them horseback lessons or training them how to load and fire a musket, because these are important skills to have when you’re living in a city with a homicide rate that would make Wyatt Earp turn pale.
And what do we say to death? “Not today.”
Well, back in the 1600s it wasn’t really considered proper or socially-acceptable for women to go roaming the streets and alleys of a city drunkenly trying to get into fights with random dudes and then kicking in their skulls with a cool-looking yet-fashionable pair of leather boots, so Ana and Eustaquia spent most of their time stuck up inside the walls of the villa, which was boring and also sucked balls to the max. Eager to test their skill in combat and get a taste of what the real world had to offer, the two women came up with a plan – they would disguise themselves as men, tie their hair up under their cool cowboy hats, sneak out of the villa after bedtime and go off to seek their adventures in the city.
Now, just so you have a little reference here, let me present a couple pictures of what Potosi, Peru looks like:
btw that hill was completely FULL of silver y'all
This is some awesome Puss in Boots fucking Once Upon a Time in Mexico shit, and basically every street corner looked like something out of a Danny Trejo movie, where you’d expect to see John Woo’s white doves flying up in the air while six guys pointed revolvers at each other (I know they didn’t have revolvers in 1600, but bear with me on this). Carousing their way through the busy streets of South America’s rowdiest city, these two caballeros-in-disguise hit bars, got drunk, picked fights, danced with hot chicks at clubs, bluffed motherfuckers at smoky poker tables, watched matadors battle bulls, and did a bunch of other awesome shit that would have made their Dad have a fucking aneurysm and start shooting blood out of his nose.
One more than one occasion this Peruvian Xena and Gabrielle ended up getting into sword fights on the streets of Potosi, sometimes against multiple opponents at once. In one of their more famous battles, the two women were up against four banditos who I assume had evil curly moustaches, each of them circling the women in an alley with their blades drawn. The two women, fighting back-to-back, lunged out at their foes, fighting like demons, and battling on despite receiving multiple bloody stab wounds. At one point Ana was cracked in the jaw with a sword hilt and lost consciousness, hitting the cobblestone street hard. Dona Eustaquia went full blood-rage, taking on four men herself to protect her wounded companion, and after deflecting quite a few attacks she was relieved to see Ana finally stagger back up to her feet, her eyes burning for vengeance.
Ana lunged at the man who had wounded her, shouting vile obscenities about his parentage and his station in life, and then slashed that douchebag so hard it nearly severed his hand clean off. He dropped his blade and ran for it like a jackass, and his friends followed suit because they knew they had no fucking chance anymore because they only outnumbered the women three-to-two. After the fighting ended, the lovers took off their armor to examine their wounds (even though it’s not exactly a cool thing to admit these days I’m totally picturing this going down as a softcore porn montage) , and found that Ana had been slashed twice, both wounds being fairly serious, and Eustaquia had three cuts including one large one across her back. But hey, all badasses need a few badass scars, and a few cutlass slashes received while outnumbered two-to-one in a back-alley street duel certainly qualifies for that.
According to legends I couldn’t find sources on, the women eventually stopped just looking for fights with easily-agitated caballeros and ended up becoming full-on vigilantes, patrolling the streets in search of motherfuckers who needed their shit rearranged with a sword point.
For the next five years, these women traveled the land, winning card games, fighting bulls (usually on horseback!), attending the finest parties with the ultra-rich one day and drinking at the seediest bars with the lowest level of scumbag the next. Eventually it seems that it became known they were actually women, because before long they were known as the “Valiant Ladies of Potosi,” a name that is still well-known on the streets of the town. What is known for sure is that these women were legendary even in their own time.
The couple eventually returned home after the death of Don de Sonza, sometime it seems in the mid-1600s. It’s not clear how old the women were when this happened, but it’s probably safe to assume they were still fairly young. The Don left the girls his entire estate in his will, so they had to settle down from their life of adventure and start running the household, but it’s not like that kept them from getting out into town every so often and raising even more epic levels of hell.
Sadly, Ana died a few years later, passing away from complications of a serious wound she received when a fucking pissed-off bull gored her during a bullfight (just before she shanked him to death). Dona Eustaquia went into deep mourning for her lover, and died just four months later of a broken heart.
The Valiant Women of Potosi remains one of the most popular folk tales in Peruvian history.
Arzans de Orsua y Vela, Bartolomo. Stories of the Imperial Town of Potosi. Plural Editores, 2000.
Crow, John A. The Epic of Latin America. University of California Press, 1992.
Green, Thomas A. Marital Arts of the World. ABC-CLIO, 2001.
Salmonson, Jessica Amanda. The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Open Road, 2015.