Travel Lagniappe – Peruvian Women’s Weaving Cooperative

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Recently, I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my son. It’s a trip that we’ve been talking about for years and it was an amazing, transformative, massive experience. No doubt it will be the subject of many posts. Today’s travel lagniappe is from that trip: before we began the trek, we visited a Peruvian Women’s Weaving Cooperative where indigenous people create beautiful woven textiles of sheep, llama, and alpaca wool.

Peruvian Women’s Weaving Cooperative
Women at the Coop
Women in traditional costume at the weaving cooperative

The outfitter for our trip – G Adventures – sponsors a foundation that, in turn, sponsors these cooperatives. Unlike many of the “shopping opportunities” that are foisted upon you on some tours, this one felt authentic – a genuine chance to experience and foster a traditional way of life.

Interestingly, despite the rustic and rural setting,

Livestock pens at the beginning of the Coop village
Livestock pens at the beginning of the Coop village

cell phone reception was excellent.Some of the denizens of the village really didn’t care, though, as long as the grass was plentiful.

Hungry LlamaThe cooperative – or at least the “public” part of it – was arranged around an open courtyard in which the weavers displayed the various activities involved in the production of the goods.

Courtyard of the coop
Courtyard of the coop

Our short tour included one of the local women explaining (in Quechua – the native language – translated by our tour guide) the process of dying the wool using only ingredients found in nature. Various sources, from colored vegetable to small insects, produce stunning colors.

Weaver explaining the function of various materials
Weaver explaining the function of various materials
Closeup of natural materials
Closeup of natural materials
Beauty from Nature
Red, Yellow, & Green dyed wool yarns
Plain wool at the upper left, some of the colors produced in the center

The range – and vividness – of colors is astonishing.

Various colored yarnsThe process at the Peruvian Women’s Weaving Cooperative, while perhaps primitive by modern standards, produces textiles that are both beautiful and practical.

Manual looms - weaving by hand
Weaving by hand

Of course, we made purchases – not only for the folks back home, but also for our coming journey on the Camino Inka. (We used them, too. But, like I said – that’s a story for another day.)

Traditional Woven HatsI’m no Luddite. But there is value in craftsmanship and tradition. How sad would it be for such beauty to disappear?

I hope that your life experiences are as varied and as lovely as the yarns that these women so lovingly weave.

Thanks for reading! We look forward to seeing you on more adventures With the Barretts –

Best –

Dan

 

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