The town Maras appears to be an old colonial town stuck in the past, but it really has its own unique character and appeal. During our stay not only did Jesúsa teach us how to make a traditional Chicha from scratch, but I also had the opportunity to accompany Almicar to pick up a fresh pitcher of Chicha for our group to taste. On our way, Amilcar taught me the way Chicha is purchased and sold within Maras. Since Chicha is not only best when fresh but also takes nearly three days to make, residents of the town purchase their Chicha from neighbors. Houses signal that they have fresh Chicha to be bought by hanging some sort of colored plastic bag or banner at the end of a long stick outside their home. Most homes use the color red to signal fresh Chicha!
Amilcar took me to a home in the village he has never bought Chicha from, yet the interactions between himself and the owners made it seem like they had been friends for years. Rather than treating me as a foreigner (which I obviously was), the homeowners extended their kindness to me as well. They welcomed me into their home, asked my name, and even invited me to sit and drink Chicha with them at the table. This type of social interaction was foreign to me, yet I found the high levels of respect and friendliness residents of Maras have for one another to be inspiring. In the United states it is nearly unheard of to walk into a stranger’s home and be greeted with open arms. My experiences in Maras led me to believe that this type of neighborly kindness is what makes it unlike other places I have been within Peru. On top of that, it makes Maras feel like a close knit community which I also felt part of during our short stay.