Honoring Tradition in Peru
Pisac Ruins, Peru
The Pisac Ruins By Brianna June Lertora
After an incredible few weeks traveling around Ecuador with my parents, my mom and I spent some time in Peru. And let me tell you, Peru certainly worked its magic onus. To avoid altitude sickness we started at low elevation in the Sacred Valley.
We stayed in Urubamba, and spent four days exploring the nearby ruins and visiting indigenous communities.
We began day one seeing the Pisac market — a famous market where the locals sell everything from sweaters, backpacks and other textiles, to jewelry, cookware, knick-knacks, and alpaca goods. It’s hard not to be tempted to buy something, when you’re surrounded by beautiful colors and artistry.
The Pisac Ruins
After the market we made our way to the Pisac ruins, where we saw the large agricultural terraces designed by the Incas.
I was amazed at the strategic crop organization and use of the natural landscape.
The Incas were always respectful of the earth (Pachamama), never altering the natural formation of the land, and instead using the mountains to their advantage — by planting crops at different levels along the mountainside they could grow a variety of plants that required different temperatures to thrive.
Ecuador, before heading into Peru. We also saw the impressive stone structures where they lived, which have survived the test of time. The smoother, more accurately positioned stones are evidence of leader’s homes.
Life in an Incan community functioned with a hierarchy — and the nobility were thought to be descendants of the sun god, Inti.
A Ritual Honoring Pachamama
That afternoon we visited the Amaru community, an indigenous community that runs a Tourism Association Center. They greeted us with flower necklaces, flute music, and big smiles. They dressed us in their traditional dress, with big, flowing skirts and a hat.
They prepared the famous almuerzo (the traditional lunch) for us, which included herbal tea using leaves from their land, soup, rice, and a vegetarian omelette of sorts. It was delicious.
We spent lunch attempting to make small talk, translating between Quechua, the official language of the Incas, Spanish, and English.
After lunch Mom and I were taken outside to take part in a ritual honoring Pachamama (Mother Earth). We sat in a circle on the ground, and listened while the woman who appeared to have a central role in the family and community recited a prayer of thanks to Pachamama, and asked for her continued nourishment.
She buried a small pile of coca leaves in the ground, a symbol of gratitude for the blessings provided by Mother Earth.
Then we each were given three coca leaves to chew. Aside from its spiritual significance, the coca plant is said to take away hunger and fatigue, allowing farmers to work all day on their land without stopping to eat or rest.
We took a moment of silence to appreciate the earth and show our respect. Then we followed our guides to learn about and collect Learning how to make textiles in Peru. medicinal plants, which we stored in our skirts tied up to serve as a bag.
Textiles and Sheep Shearing
When we returned to the house, it was time to learn about the process of making textiles — shearing sheep, spinning wool, making natural dyes, and weaving.
They typically divide the day in two parts — farming in the morning and making textiles after lunch. It’s a tedious and detailed process, taking days to make even a small purse or scarf.
Children start learning to weave when they are adolescents, about 10-12 years old, and when a girl can do every part of the process on her own she is considered ready for marriage.
Since they live in relative isolation, apart from the cities and relying solely on the community for their daily needs, children don’t attend school, and instead education is passed down from generation to generation, teaching them how to live off the land and provide for themselves within the community.
A Strong Connection to the Earth
Learning about their way of life, the simplicity of it all, their strong connection to the earth and the spirituality they find through nature was inspiring and put a lot into perspective for me. They knew little about the world outside their village, but they lived with a profound sense of peace.
They were happy.
They were free of the stresses of much of modern life — societal expectations of success, the dangers of technology, oppressive violence and other woes.
They had what they needed and they took no more. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, and who has seen people I love struggle with the same, it was an intriguing lifestyle and a breath of fresh air. I have Connecting with nature in Peru. never felt such inner calm and peace as I did in Peru.
That’s not to say they lead a life free of problems. Of course not. We all have our struggles, and our ways of coping with them, and these people were no exception. But what a sweet release it was to be in nature, to get back to basics, to forget about all of the trivial stresses we find so important when our heads are clouded by outward demands and pressure.
I absolutely loved visiting the community.
It opened my eyes not only to their way of life, but to my own. How refreshing it is to gain some perspective and realize there are many more ways than just one, to lead a happy life.
Brianna June Lertora is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher, on a path of constant transformation and inquiry. She trained at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She studied Spanish and communications at Stonehill College, and spent a year teaching English in Ecuador. In her spare time, she writes and travels the world.
Read more stories about Peru on GoNOMAD.
Andy has traveled far and wide. He connected with GoNOMAD Travel about five years ago as an editorial intern and has worked as a travel writer for the publication ever since. When he isn’t on the road, Andy works as a newspaper reporter in Massachusetts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s degree in creative nonfiction from Bay Path University.