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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Nation Q’eros

I was a little unsure at first why we had chosen to go to Nation Q’eros.  Why would we go there when we could do a week long trek through Ausangate, Salkantay and Lares? After doing some research though, I understood how much more it has to offer.  Q’eros is one of a kind; not contacted since the 60s, they are the last of the Inca.  Their farming techniques, traditions and way of life is one of the only places left uncolonized.  My group and I had the opportunity to step into a time machine, and in doing so learn about the history and humble beginnings of Peru.

My outlook on life was challenged through the entirety of our 7 days in Q’eros.  This place is the living example of living with what you know.   There are some aspects of modern culture in Q’eros.  People usually have some sort of light source hooked up to a car battery.  This is useful for nighttime.  People are starting to speak more Spanish.  The kids learn Spanish in school and come home and teach their mothers or fathers.  Also some men travel outside of Nation Q’eros, in search of supplies and work.  One of my homestay dads worked in the mine for 4 months of the year outside Lima to help provide for his family. However this was overshadowed by the rest of thier lives.Their roles in the community, gender and occupationally, are concrete.  They still live in their traditional houses and eating the same food – potatoes.  There seems to be an energy that this is how they want to live, have lived for hundreds of years, and will live until they die. From a Western perspective, it is hard to support their way of life because of lack of opportunity.  However that is the way they have been living and they do not seem to want to change.  For me in the future it will help me understand my own privilege and being accepting of cultures vastly different than my own.

Giving back to Nation Q’eros will not be direct.  Chances are I will never have an opportunity to go back there and be immersed in the way I was with Dragons.  However I will align with their mindset.  Nation Q’eros treats their environment religiously, and I understand why.  During the water ceremony, that lake had an energy.  The apus seemed to tower over us and the gushing, clean rivers were mesmerizing.  During a night staying at the school, a llama got struck by lightning during the night and died. What a crazy example of the raw power of nature.  I understand and respect the way they treat the land.

Expanding bigger, this is directly relevant to global warming.  Our Westernized society is making a mess of the planet, and effects are even being seen in Q’eros.  The warmer weather is forcing the farmers to move their potatoes higher and higher into the mountains.  Our guide, Seawar Kenti, said that even in his childhood the mountains surrounding us use to be white.  Now they are a stark black.  I think the world has something to learn from Q’eros, and I hope I can help spread that message.