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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.

Update from Nación Q’eros

We have been receiving regular updates from the team, and they are enjoying their time in the remote Q’eros territory in the Peruvian highlands.  The group has been hiking from one remote village to the next during the day, and staying in stone huts with families at night.  Yesterday the group dropped down along the edge of the cloud forest en route to the village of Japu, witnessing several of the ecological tiers that provide Q’eros communities with a simple livelihood; at lower elevations, local people harvest bananas and corn, and keep a small number of cows and mules.  Higher up, communities produce a wide variety of potatoes, the main food source for the Q’ero people, and raise llamas and sheep.  At climes above 4,000 meters, large flocks of alpaca provide wool for the distinctive textiles of the region.  The Q’eros people trace their lineage directly back to the Inca, and according to local history a collection of five families settled the area in the 16th century in order to escape the Spanish conquest.  These families became 5 villages, which lived in virtual isolation from the outside world until their “discovery” during an ethnographic expedition in 1955.

Today the group is enjoying a Pachamanca ritual with the community, involving a sheep or llama sacrifice and then cooking the meat on hot stones underground.  Students have enjoyed spectacular vistas of these remote mountains, a purification ceremony at an alpine lake, and learning about the traditional way of life of the Q’eros people.

The group will return to the town of Ocongate on Saturday, so expect updates soon after that!  The image depicts a typical home in the Q’eros Nacion.