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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

The Story of Nacion Q’eros

“Nacion Q’eros”
One girl’s story about 10 travelers’ time spent in the mountains with the last remaining descendants of the Inca Empire.

Written by: Sophie A. Iglar
Published by: Yak Shack Inc., Cusco, Peru– November 17, 2019
Lived by: Your very own Dragones

>The Dragons- your sons and daughters
>The Instructors- Colleen, Jesse, and Cat
>Our trekking and spiritual guides- Miguelinti and Siwar
>The arrieros- Lorenzo, Miguel, and Julian
>The adults- some other adults from around the world that joined us on our trek
>Our hosts- the familias of Nacion Q’eros
>Papas- potatoes

November 11-November 16, the cold and rainy season. The Andes Mountains of Peru in the Altiplano region, near the town of Ocongate, a few hours outside of Cusco. [Specifically] The pueblos of Llanaruma, Cochamarca, Japú, and Raschi in Nacion Q’eros.
The Dragons’ time is spent surrounded by many of Pachamama’s marvelous beauties: giant apus, sacred lakes, snow-covered peaks, rocky inclines, muddy declines, flowing cascadas and fields of papas.

A group of Dragons treks into the mountains. They eat an exorbitant amount of papas. The end.

Just kidding!!! Well….actually… no….I’m not kidding, we did spend the last week in the mountains eating enough potatoes to last me a lifetime (or at least until our next trek…. which is this week….), BUT there is much more to the story than just that, so let me give you a better plot summary:
A group of Dragons embraced their desire for rugged travel as they set forth into the mountains for a few days of embracing nature and Pachamama in the back of a food truck, using their backpacks as seats and friends’ shoulders as pillows. During their time trekking en el lugar sagrado de Nacion Q’eros, the Dragons hiked up and down through rain and shine (and a bit of snow/hail), chewed on plenty of coca leaves, gave many thanks to the beauty and wonder afforded to us by Pachamama, celebrated fellow Dragon Bridget’s birthday with some yummy cake-in-a-bag, were blessed by Papa Siwar at el Lago Sagrado in order to pass into the sacred Incan land, listened to magical flute playing as we walked, laughed at our ridiculous llama friends carrying ~1lb of gear each, jammed out to our rendition “Hey Jude,” ate plenty of mantaquilla de mani (yay protein!!), took turns being cowboys on los caballos emergencias, learned some of the Incan wisdom and rituals of our spiritual guides, and oh so much more. The Dragons spent their evenings and nights in the different one-room, straw-floored homes throughout the various Incan communities. They were warmly welcomed by their four host-families, many of whom spoke only their native language of Quechua (and very little to no Spanish), so the Dragons experienced and interacted with their moms, dads, brothers and sisters in a multitude of different ways: helping a mom peel potatoes for dinner, showing a brother how to play chords on the guitar, teaching a sister how to write words in English while being taught by a sister how to write words in Quechua, assisting a father in clearing space in the house, and even getting tucked in for bed with extra blankets by an adorable little brother named Juan Carlos. The Dragons’ experience in Nacion Q’eros was another one they will never forget. And yes, the Dragons also ate an exorbitant amount of papas. The end.