The Andean People of the Sacred Valley in Peru


I was honored to witness an Andean celebration yesterday, with the procession line heading through the town market of Pisaq, everyone adorned in various colours of sacred dress, the elders and tribal healers wearing proud ceremonial headdresses of feathers, bones, leather and beads… Men and young boys playing wood flutes and young girls wearing woven headbands, huge smiles and carrying armfuls of sage.

I have met so many amazing people in Peru… a wise older woman, bent from years of living, perhaps 4 feet tall, her face lined from the sun and from the memories of a long life… and her eyes….I approached her and made connection, her eyes drew me in….she allowed me to photograph her… not in a way in which she was posing, but instead she connected with some distant memory and truth inside of her, gently smiled and let that truth show through the photo…

There are many children in the market, dressing up in their traditional clothing holding baby lambs or a tiny dog, who want to sell a picture… we pay them to capture the ‘traditional’ looking moment.

The Andean people are so striking, beautiful, their woven alpaca and wool clothing, traditional felt hats (women wear flowers in their hats if they are single and looking for a suitor!), gentle eyes, quick to smile and faces full of character… I often see them traveling with enormous packs on their backs, carrying a pile of eucalyptus leaves tied together, or a child under a colourful blanket.

It is common for the women to travel daily, (from high up in the mountains, down the steep mountain slopes) to the village in the valley, every day to sell their wares…Extremely fit and used to the high altitude, they can almost run up and down the mountains, traveling light footed on the tips of the narrow, steep stairs, (which have been painfully carved out of rock and set into the mountain over many years) They do not fight to balance like me, as I rest my feet carefully on the flat steps themselves (and at times stumble from the steep grade), but instead these skilled hikers balance on the point of the stair and run resting their feet only on the tips of the stairs… definitely Andean acrobatics and sure footing.