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Photo by Ryan Kost, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Quechua Spirituality

So a bit of housekeeping before I get into some other things. This past Sunday I got to cross off one of my biggest bucket list items. I begged and begged Luis to take me to a local soccer game here in Cochabamba and he finally gave in. It was so fun! Wilsterman (the home team) beat Always Ready (team from La Paz) 3-0. Always Ready wasn’t so ready. I really had a great time and I bought a jersey.

As I write this Yak we have just said goodbye to our families and our teachers. We all will miss Tiquipaya and Cochabamba very much. It has been a very in depth learning experience for each of us in many different ways. We now have a 9:30pm all night bus ride to Sucre where we will spend 3 days hiking in the mountains and the rest for us to explore the city. Can’t believe that  we only have 8 more days in Bolivia.

For this next part I would like to share a little excerpt from my ISP (Independent Study Project). I wanted to learn more about the religion and Andean culture that the people here in Bolivia and other surrounding South American countries have been practicing for generations. That being said, I met with a man named Tawas (the number four in Quechua) and he gave me a presentation about the religion and culture of Quechuan people.

At first I wanted to learn how catholicism and these ancient religions are able to coincide, he had a simple answer: sincretismo. He said that catholicism and any ancient religion here can be fully practiced together no problem at all, but some ways of the ancient religions are being lost. He shifted my focus from christianity and these other religions that I thought couldn’t mix, to something bigger. This is what happened. First off, Quechua (the mother religion) originates from Cuzco in Peru and spread throughout South America reaching the furthest corners. There are other religions / cultures that inhabited these regions and still do to this day like the Aymara people and the Guarani. However, when messengers from Cuzco,  the capital of the Incan empire and the Quechua religion reached these far distanced peoples with different religions, they did not force anything upon them. Unlike the conquistadores and catholic missionaries that barreled their way through South America, the messengers spread an idea that was called El Cosmivision Andina. In really short terms it is a vision for the whole world and a better future for the world. It has words like Ayni (the relationship between humans and all material / nonmaterial things) and Minka (a system / realization of of working on communal projects to benefit everyone in a certain region). Yea, I know it may sound different and just full of nonsense, but these people had advanced ways of doing things like building fortified cities with actual plumbing and cultivating enough food that nobody would starve. Yes it was different times, but our ancestors in Europe were really struggling. Remember, these same people that had this cosmivision concept built Macchu Picchu without cement and precision masonry that still stands to this day. Cosmivison has flaws like anything. It doesn’t take into account human failure (like greed) and it becomes very individualistic. It happens to center around the human being and leads to a lot of extraction of materials from the Earth. It does realize concepts of contamination of Pachamama (mother Earth) and works to improve relations, but I don’t have enough time to write about that.

The main take away I had from this lesson fully came to me as just yesterday I walked through a permaculture farm and learned the ways of this practice. It is possible to cultivate without hurting the land and letting nature do the work. The problem with that: it takes a long time. I’m not a converted soul saying ban all industrial farming and adopt this Cosmivision, but it is worth thinking about. See ya soon,