My first trip to Peru came in 2012 when I first started working for G Adventures. Anytime you visit a place for the first time you are almost always overwhelmed by the novelty of it all. All your senses are enlivened as if you are seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and tasting for the first time. In a sense, you really are.
You begin to see the world in a different way and come to question your preconceived notions of how the world should look like. Peru was such a place for me and given the grandness of it all, I want to focus this travel journal on one of the biggest highlights of my journey: the Women’s Weaving Co-Op in the community of Ccaccaccollo in the Sacred Valley.
The most famous tourist attraction in this country rich with historical sights is of course Machu Micchu. Thousands of people flock to Peru every year for just this reason. This undoubtedly generates a lot of income for the country. Unfortunately, communities that reside in Peru’s countryside are unable to benefit from this mass tourism. These indigenous locals lead traditional lives that are mainly dedicated to pastoral and agricultural activities. In recent times, many of these people have been forced to leave their small towns, and in turn their culture and tradition, and seek employment elsewhere in order to support their families. In a bid to preserve their unique heritage and provide a viable economic alternative, G Adventures and its nonprofit wing Planeterra are working closely with the people of Ccaccaccollo to develop a women’s weaving cooperative.
Most G Adventures groups are able to visit this community as part of the Sacred Valley Tour and Day Tour. Here they meet the women and learn about all the stages of the weaving process: hand-spinning the wool, dying the wool using natural dyes, and participating in a weaving demonstration. Travellers are also given the opportunity to purchase high quality textiles directly from the women who hand made them.
By working with the women of this community, G Adventures, Planeterra and global travellers are encouraging these locals to be proud of their cultural heritage by showcasing their intricate weaving skills. This also enables the women to help provide for their families and benefit from tourism in a way that avoids negative social and cultural impacts.
Photographing this deep-rooted weaving tradition was a dream as these women really opened up their lives to me. My camera became that proverbial fly on the wall, as they went about their business almost forgetting the meddling of my curious lens.
The pictures speak for themselves.