¡Hola from Qenco!

This week we went off the map and then a little further to Qenco, a village quietly nestled in a mountain at 12,000+ feet.
Enduring the rain, wind, and mud, we were rewarded with picturesque mountain views and opportunities to hang out with llamas and 100’s of sheep in the morning and at sunset.

We also spent time working with our host families on various projects to fully engaged in the community. We helped prune strawberry plants in the various greenhouses, a few of us eating out way through the rows. (Best strawberries ever!) We learned, with the right care, strawberries thrive at the high elevation, becoming a lucrative form of income for locals. We also carried/dragged freshly cut logs to help build the foundation for two new greenhouses for Don Juan and Don Pedro, the two families we were staying with.

On our last full day, our families dressed us in traditional clothing as gesture of further sharing their culture. They found it quite amusing and many pictures were taken. We then struggled in our full, colorful, wool outfits up and down the mountains to farm potatoes. Even more respect for these amazing, generous people was gained as we experienced the hard work of hand turning the soil and planting hundred of seed potatoes.

To finish our experience, some of us had the guts to watch the killing and preparation of cuy (guinea pig). Cuy is a special dish and it was a great opportunity to share in the cultural tradition.

All in all, it was an awesome, albeit chilly experience that pushed us out of our comfort zone.

Tupanan chiskama (Quechua for until next time)

The ladies donned traditional dress to go work in the fields. The señoras were giggling and all smiles as they fitted each of the group.
The four amigos, rockin’ the traditional dress of hand knit hats and woven, wool ponchos.
Tasha, Grace and Meredith trying their hand at mixing cement to help secure posts for a new greenhouse.
Learning traditional weaving techniques.
Learning to plant potatoes at 13,000 feet. Holes were hand dug with simple tools, small seed potatoes and a bowl of sheep manure was added to give the taters a head start.