During our most recent trip around Cusco, we embarked on a journey all the way to Condorama.
Needless to say, the journeys to these remote places are not always easy. Our trip extended the three hours and half range by land, at a height of 4800 meters above the sea level, from Arequipa to the mountain itself.
The community and the “alpaqueros” were happily awaiting our arrival. As such, they immediately brought us some coke leaves (hoja de coca), to counteract the effects of the change of height. This delicate tradition from the Andes (called “pichar”) consists of placing the coke leaf on the back of the mouth and rubbing it against the gum line. The components that are released, ground the body once again, especially after abrupt climate changes and the increase of oxygen that comes with a different height. You see, we are not used to that, least of all coming from dominantly air polluted places like big cities.
A while after getting adjusted, the natives assisted us with bringing blankets to sit on, around what looked like a circle of stones, where we sat to enjoy a homemade typical lunch. The diet of the natives of Condorama is aligned with their beliefs, meaning they are very conscious of making use of the resources nature provides them with. Accordingly, their diet is made up of root vegetables predominantly and meats.
This time around, they fed us a potato soup with lots of vegetables, while we conversed our way through the meal, under the watercolor sky that was filled with cotton-like clouds. The lakes, the small hills, and the air is so pure that it is unlike anything you can ever encounter. Despite being a very basic scenery with only the essentials, that scene could wither the strongest storms of the soul. The houses were small and made up of stone and aluminum roofs. The natives took us on a journey into their sacred world, a world that more often than not we forget, among the daily stress of the city life.
After taking a rest after lunch, Alex, the leader of the community pointed us in the direction of the farmyard to meet the alpacas and to get better acquainted with the process of shearing to remove the wool. The beliefs and traditions of most of the Andean communities, birth from cosmology and the awareness that everything is connected: nature is alive, it feeds us, it feeds the animals and to her we shall return. This is why it´s very common to hear and witness manifestations of such reverence in simple tasks like “shearing”.
To initiate the ritual they spill a little bit of beer on the ground as a gratitude gesture with the Earth. This is called “el pago a la tierra” (the pay to the Earth), where they thank it for providing it with the resources they need (including the alpaca wool).
Another way in which they express the connection with Earth is with their cooking technique: Pachamanca. The process is fairly simple but it holds a deeper significance. They season the meat in a ceramic bowl and place it under the ground in a hole, where it cooks. The meat receives then the energy from the earth, which is alive and brings about many blessings…
On our way back home, we greeted the natives goodbye, while two of the tourists that came along with us decided to stay overnight in order to get a full cultural experience. While they are there, we offer them the possibility to interact with some of the millenary cultures that gave birth to humanity and that still stand today, thanks to their handicraft and the opportunities small businesses provide them by building grander scale commercial alliances, so they may continue preserving their cultures, values and traditions.
Our clients that take part in these cultural journeys, are tourists from all around the globe that travel to Peru, in order to reconnect with the communities that came before us and that remain magical, without being tainted by the urban world like we know it. Cultures that have been preserved throughout the centuries which bestow a wisdom that is rich in value, and full of colors full of layers.
Among their touristic experiences they choose us, because we provide a firsthand experience, both with the interaction with the natives of artisanal Andean communities, as well as a real taste of the mysterious culture of our ancestors. After the journey, they take with them a product that is 100% Peruvian, crafted by their own hands, along with the memory of a world filled with wonders, that lies a few kilometers away from the Wifi.