Monday, May 18, 2015

Change of perspective in Chincheros

Over the five day excursion our Maymester group embarked upon, my most memorable experiences were the two days spent in Chincheros, a small, rural town located outside of Cuzco at a mild 12,500 feet. We stayed with an incredibly kind host family at Casa de Tejedora where they provided us home cooked food and warm beds. They also devoted much of their time to us by allowing us to partake in potato-picking, the main agricultural industry in Chincheros as well as personally escorting us to a stowed-away waterfall that was about a two hour hike from where we stayed. Sifting my hands through gravel and picking potatoes, I gained a new appreciation for the delicateness and thoroughness of foods I had previously thought were somehow robotically mass-produced in a factory. When one of the elderly ladies cooked some of the potatoes we had picked by simply using a match and a pile of gravel to create an oven, I got to taste some of the richest, freshest, plain potatoes I had ever eaten. That morning, satisfaction was simply enjoying some of Earth’s basic foods and getting a glimpse at how many villagers of Peru lived. In the afternoon, two kids from the family volunteered to guide us on a hike to the waterfall. I had never been an avid fan of hiking, but the trail was breathtakingly scenic with towering trees, running water and mountain views straight out of movies. The best part was that there wasn’t a single other hiker on the trail, allowing us to enjoy the hike and waterfall in complete serenity without having to jostle for photos or a better angle. During the hike back, night descended and we had to rely on phone flashlights and the sound of our guides to lead us back to the house. Being so isolated from other sources of artificial light, whenever I turned my head upward toward the sky, I saw a dazzling display of constellations and planets. It is hard to describe how incredible the view was, but suffice to say that our group stopped at least five times to simply enjoy the view in silence. Growing up in a privileged environment where our standard of living allows us to watch IMAX 3-D movies and connect with friends over ever-evolving social media, this technology detox was one of the most serene and leisurely activities I have ever experienced. Who needs digital entertainment when you can gaze up at the sky and be mesmerized by shimmering stars or close your eyes and listen to the relentless fall of water?

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