We are leaving Paru Paru today full of gratitude and colorful memories of our host families and our first trek in the Andes.
In Paru Paru we were welcomed with flower petals and open arms. Our host families provided us with endless cups of hot tea, and delicious meals featuring potatoes, corn, quinoa, squash, fava beans, chicken and rice in many combinations.
We learned about the full cycle of planting and harvesting potatoes with traditional tools, we learned which plants cure which ailments and which plants make certain dyes. We saw the process of making textiles from shearing the sheep to weaving colored threads in complex patterns representing aspects of the natural environment. We were dressed up in handmade wool textiles and taught traditional communal dances to the playful rhythms of flute and drum.
We learned about the role of the coca leaf in paying homage to pacha mama and asking for blessings from the spirits of the mountains for a good harvest.
We were challenged by hiking and camping at high altitude (13,000 ft) and below freezing temperatures and greatly rewarded by a clear night sky and the warmth of the sun rising over towering peaks.
We feel sad to say goodbye and also excited to learn more about the history of the Inca civilization. All we can say is “añay” thank you very much in Quechua.