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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Culture Clash in the Andes

Greetings from Cuzco!

We just finished a 6 day trek through Nacion Q’eros, a series of isolated Andean communities, where we saw and learned about the last true descendants of the Inca. It was fascinating to see the intersection of the centuries-old traditional ways of living and modern comforts and conveniences. It raised many compex questions, because on the one hand, culture should be preserved, but the people of Q’eros of course have the right to all of the comforts of the modern world as well. It highlights an issue that is happening all over the world with indigenous communities.

For Q’eros, there is still time to find a solution, as they remain very isolated and still somewhat wary of the outside world. Almost all of the wealth in the area is in agriculture and livestock, and people who often leave Nacion Q’eros are uncommon. However, some of the traditional activities are now quite rare or even extinct. It seems that at times, the inexorable march of the modern world cannot be stopped, only slowed down. I do not claim to have a solution to the problem, as there are people who dedicate their lives to this and still cannot agree on a perfect one, but I do know for sure that inaction is not an option.

It took a lot of my brainpower to try to unravel the issue, which was unfortunate, as the result of hiking at 15,000 feet for a week left precious little oxygen in our brains to focus on that. However, the trek was a lot of fun, and very rewarding as I look back on it even now. It was an eye-opening experience that I could never have while I was travelling alone.

 

Signing off,

Chris