Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Immersed in Quechua

During one of our excursions, we stayed overnight in the town of Maras with some local peasant families. They were very nice and welcoming and eager to have us participate in local customs. Our festivities started with an explanation of how to make chicha morada and a few people petting guinea pigs. Afterwards, the women dressed most of the group in traditional wear: hats, shirts, skirts and all. Other members of the group got instruments to play while the costumed group danced with one another. I was more than hesitant to participate, and went to hide and observe from the balcony with Alejandra. Amilca found me and convinced me to come downstairs where I, too, grabbed an instrument. Soon we were all laughing and dancing and chasing each other around with bull horns.
After a few preparations and some group bonfire bonding, the women decided to perform a play for us. To our surprise, it was all in Quechua. Ever. Single. Word. The play was very heavily dialogue-based, so much of it went right over my head. The women did, however, put a lot of effort into their gestures. When she was carrying a piece of corn, they were so dramatic that I actually started to wonder if it really was just corn. We could tell that the play was some story about San Francisco, but that was about it. Those moments, trying to figure out what was going on and why she was slapping the donkey, were easily the most immersive of our trip. The entire visit was unlike anything I have ever witnessed. Our weekend visits like this were easily filled with much more learning than any of our classroom settings, and the type of hands-on, immersive learning we’ve experienced on this trip can’t be replicated in a typical Spanish class.

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