Extirpators frequently lamented the fact that many huacas were "born of the hills themselves";(68) others, although detached from the mountainsides, were so large or impossibly placed that they also proved indestructible.(69) Moreover, although in theory most diligencias set out against specific deities and shrines, in practice the actions could take on a weary and wanton character (like an early entrada, as noted above), eager to crush whatever they could find.
The symbols were to provide the extirpators with an assurance of permanent effect that they desperately needed, just as they were to provide the Indians with strong memories of their huacas' humiliation and defeat.
For it was in terms of a clear-cut Augustinian opposition between Christians and idolaters, between the camps of light and darkness, between those who had been won over by the gospel and those who wickedly resisted it, that many mid-colonial missionaries and extirpators preferred to interpret the religious reality in Indian areas.
Many people who came before the visitadores de idolatria were conspicuously reticent about the fate of the huacas and of the important places that had come to the extirpators' attention and been "Christianized" by a cross and perhaps a name.
This much Indian witnesses could only partially conceal, but this much most mid-colonial extirpators proved unable to face.
Yet to the extirpator in his role as preacher, they became nothing more than "ugly rocks", regularly soiled by animals and little boys.(31) Similarly, the conopas, sculpted and natural forms, often of stone, were, to many Andeans, mobile, personal founts of energy, fertility and good fortune.
Like the person who organized the building of a first church or who rode in a conquering expedition, the seventeenth-century extirpator on a diligencia participated in a new beginning, a potential triumph in foreign territory.