Sep 8, 2008

Morning in Chinchera

We woke up to a beautiful day! The morning air was cool, enough for long sleeves or a light jacket. I noticed that Peruvians, however, wore their winter attire. By noon, the sun would send the temperature soaring. We had breakfast at our hotel… I ate melon, nuts, bread and cheese for my breakfast. Of course, I had a strong cup of coffee and before heading out to tour the country-side, I drank the traditional cup of coca tea. My energy was high and I seemed to have adapted to the altitude… thank goodness!

Abelardo was waiting for us at the bus and we were on our way to Chinchera, a small community where weaving is the main industry. On our way there, we stopped at an open-air market. Women were just arriving to set out their blankets, hats, purses, dolls, etc. I looked around for a few minutes and decided not to purchase anything until Chinchera. Abelardo said we’d find better deals there. I did, however, take time to snap a few pictures of some llamas!

Chinchera was more than I imagined. It was a busy little town, full of beauty and tradition. I had noticed that on top of each roof were a couple of bulls and a cross. Abelardo explained that they were put there to ask for fertility, good luck, and blessings from God. For years, it was common to have 7 to 10 children. Today, the average is 3 children per household.

Chinchera was charming. Abelardo arranged for us to have a private demonstration of how the alpaca and llama wool is cleaned, spun, then dyed and made into yarn. The yarn is dyed using all natural seed pods and locally grown plants. The weavers demonstrated how they take the yarn and make beautiful woven designs. This traditional way to weave has been passed down for generations and continues to be a vital part of life in Chinchera. After the demonstration, we walked to the open-air market. Tourism is the number one industry so selling what they make is their main goal each day. Children begin as soon as they can walk and talk. “For you, Miss Jenny. I give you special price.” Saying, “No thank you,” over and over became more and more difficult, especially to the children.

I could have spent all day in this village. I noticed a man sitting in a doorway. I offered 5 sole in exchange for a photo. His photograph became one of my very favorite photos. At first, I wondered why he looked so perplexed… yes, almost grumpy. I felt uneasy when I looked at his picture. And then, my husband pointed out the lines in his forehead. They looked like a condor with it’s’ wings spread open in front of a backdrop of Andean mountains. Look for him in the photo montage and see if you can see Peru in this man’s expression.

Another favorite photo was of a woman walking down the street in Chinchera. She’s the oldest woman in their community, estimated to be 112 years old. She is blind, but graciously accepted coins in exchange for photographs. She was such a delight!

That wrapped up our morning tour of a small town in the farming and weaving community of Chinchera. We headed back to the hotel to freshen up and have lunch before heading out for the rest of the afternoon.

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