“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” Wise words from Gilbert K. Chesterton and the sentiment is echoed by Sean Kennaway after his visit to a very special part of Peru…
“I travelled with Intrepid to a small community called Chawaytire in the Sacred Valley, about 2 hours outside of Cuzco. Chawaytire sits at about 3300m (10,830 feet) and has a population of around 600, whose primary source of income comes from selling textiles.
Taking a local bus from Cuzco to Pisac we transferred to a private shuttle for the final bumpy ride along a dirt track to our destination. In the late morning we were warmly greeted by the community’s Number One and Number Two, dressed in their traditional Andean outfits. We were then introduced to a group of the weavers and in turn introduced ourselves in our best survival Spanish, aptly assisted by our leader Raul.
After explanations of the weaving process and watching the weaving take place in the grassed courtyard, it was lunch time. First course was a surprisingly tasty soup made of quinoa, vegetables and egg. Main course came out and consisted of some plain rice, taro and a small piece of cuy, or guinea pig. Yes, cute little furry guinea pig, there on the plate. The cuy tasted like a cross between rabbit, and dare I say it, chicken. It’s the usual local fare in these parts and it was the perfect place to have our first try of the traditional Peruvian dish.
After lunch we were given a short tour of the village and a local house to see how Chawaytire locals lived. Accommodation is very basic in the Andes, with many people sharing single structures with animals free roaming inside and out. In the home we were invited into there was also a room full of guinea pigs, which was explained to us as the breeding pen. My mind wandered back to lunch and I realised I’d just eaten one of these little critter’s relatives.
Our visit was very informative and it was so inspiring to see a proactive community that values its traditions and leads a sustainable existence. After our special stop it was back in the bus to Pisac, where we transferred to another local bus for our next stop. That would be the ancient town of Ollantaytambo for an overnight stay, before we headed to the amazing Machu Picchu. All part of Peru’s amazing experiences at every turn!”
The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Via The Intrepid Foundation you can help support Living Heart in Peru’s Sacred Valley as well as other great organisations, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!
* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.
* photo by Lisa Tsen – Intrepid Photography Competition