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People on the Lares Trail

by Elena on October 28, 2009

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Before the foggy mist descended upon us and we fell asleep to the background music of Huayno, we stopped to set up camp near a house where some children were playing in the backyard.  They were shy at first, hiding behind a rock wall, and only popping over when they wanted us to play with them.  One thing you notice right away while talking to the children is the burgundy color of their cheeks caused by the harsh winds of the mountains.  Their skin is tough and bruised.  At night the temperature dip really low and remain the same in the mornings before the sun could rise above the mountains.  All the children have to walk to school, through the rocky terrain, a task that was so difficult for us, yet effortless for them, as they ran while talking and laughing.

We encountered lots of other people on the trail.  Our guide cautioned us on giving the children food, in particular candies which they frequently asked for.  There are not many available dentists and many of the kids have teeth that are rotting and falling out.  Try saying no to a bunch of wide-eyed children asking for something as small as a piece of candy.  It’s not easy.  I asked the kids what their names were and they surprised me with English names like Nelly and Roy here.  Our guide explained that many of the Quechua people started to name their kids after celebrities and popular Anglo names.  Nelly Furtado maybe?DSC00413

While the Quechua people do not wear wedding rings there is a way to distinguish who is married and who is single.  Men traditionally wear a hat with multicolored pieces of fabric hanging off the sides.  If the fabric is hanging on both sides of the hat it means they are married.  Their single counterparts have the pieces tied up in the back.  In the picture below you can see the bright colored hats.  These clothes made it easy to spot another person walking along the isolated trails.  The impressing part is that the dye and make the clothes themselves, using the various plants and wildlife found around their homes.Andean Town Meeting

Image via: quinet.

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