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Photo by Ryan Kost, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Reflecting on Q’eros

Our six days in Q’eros

Sometime between the late fourteenth century and into the fifth century a small population of former Incan messengers disappeared into the Andes of Southern Peru. Forgotten by the Incas and too secluded for the Spanish colonists to reach, the people of Nation Q`eros disappeared from memory. Alone and unaffected by the fall of the Incan Empire and Rise of the Spanish Empire, the people of Q`eros went on living their lives, untouched.

Q’eros is a remote mountain community of around 6,000 indigenous people spread across 5 communities in the Andes mountains (4500 meters altitude). Through Dragons connection with Sewar, a past president of the communities, we were given the privilege of entering Q’eros nation. With Sewar and his son Miguel Inti as our guides we set off on a six day trek to learn about the lifestyles of indigenous peoples and their spiritual beliefs, known as cosmo vision. We celebrated multiple rituals and a sacrifice to allow us permission into Q’eros and to show respect for Pacha Mama, or Mother Earth. We learned about the spirit world, hannan pacha represented by the condor, the present world, kai pacha represented by the puma, and the earth/underworld, uku pacha represented by the serpent.

Each night of the trek we divided into groups of two to three students and spent the night in a local family’s home. With the families we would help prepare dinner, usually boiled potatoes or potato soup, and converse with them about their lives and their language. During the days we would hike from one small village to the next having conversations about the way of life in queros but usually about food.

On our fourth day of the trek we spent a day in the most populated village, Japu. Here we held a ceremony where we meditated to pachamama and then Phoebe, Kareem, Joe, and Quincy helped to sacrifice four sheep and prepare the meat. The meat was butchered and carried off to be cooked in a pit covered by hot stones. Meanwhile the women and children of the village cleaned out the organs and intestines in the river to later be used for an organ soup. After eating the meat or boiled potatoes for the vegetarians we played the locals in a soccer match while it was pouring rain. At night we all had dinner with our families and went to bed.

The next morning our guide Sewar told us about the history of Q’eros, but also talked about what the future might look like. After his story we hiked to the last village for only two hours. We arrived around 12 am and played soccer with the locals and our guides. After that we all had to take some time for ourselves to reflect on the last week. The village is one of the most remote ones out of all the villages we visited.

The morning after we walked for 30 minutes to the potato truck. We thanked our guides for this incredible week and said our goodbyes.
We hopped on the truck and drove back to Ocongate for 4 hours

Q’eros was an eye opening, challenging and beautiful experience for us all. Hiking for 6 hours, eating potatoes three times a day and sleeping on the ground in a small house with our families. Something none of us had ever done before. But we all feel proud and we are definitely an experience richer.