“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
What are you interested in, when you visit new places? Is it the food, the landscape, or the climate that motivates you to chose a certain destination? Cities, or remote areas? Museums, or parks? Mountains, or oceans? People, or places?
Peru has everything a tourist or a photographer is wishing for. I saw and photographed many locals in all areas we visited during our trip to Peru, in 2019. Not necessarily the people (as I didn’t want to intrude into their personal life), but especially their traditional costumes, which are truly eye-catching, with their unique motifs and vivid colours.
More places we visited, more women I’ve noticed, with an obvious reason that most of the people we’ve seen in the markets, or the streets were females. No wonder, their husbands were the drivers, and always on the road between the touristic places, working the fields, or far away, working in the big cities, as one of our guides tried to explain the simple life from rural areas.
I’m not sure if the women from Peruvian highlands see their day to day lives as a miracle, but from a tourist point of view this is totally different. The sporadic vegetation, the remoteness of the villages, and of the cultivated lands might look scary for people coming from a different civilization. The bone-dry lands look sad sometimes, same as some of the unflinching faces of the locals.
But the life goes on, good or bad, or just the same as it went by for hundreds of years.
If you walk long enough, you see people carrying stuff in big pieces of cloth on their backs. But also, mothers carrying their babies in the same way, using traditional Andean mantas. The role of a mother is not an easy one, especially in Peru. After Peruvian independence in 1821, the Peruvians still had a long way to go, as many conflicts of interests, instability, insecurity went through the country.
After about 100 years of struggle, back in 1955, Peru managed to enact a law to recognize the women’s right to vote. Peruvian women celebrate September 7 as the Day of Women’s Civil Rights. The law made women eligible to vote for the first time the following year, in 1956, in which eight congresswomen and one female senator were elected to the Congress of the Republic.
But in the Highlands, the time has a different meaning. There are sad faces, but also happy faces, most of the time when the kids are around. What more could a mother ask for, when she has her happy kids around?
But working mothers look differently. Most of them seem to be worried, concerned, as they are by themselves trying to earn a living, while taking care of the children.
Carrying them has become a tradition, as you can see from the way the toys are crafted.
Traveling around, we had the opportunity to see various traditional garments. In all market places you could hear them shouting all the time: Chompas y chullos. I loved the way they were saying it, and I shortly learned what that means, they are the traditional Andean sweaters and hats, made with Alpaca wool. But while the men and the children wear these chullos, the women wear other type of hats. We were amazed at so many styles, so many colours, in all regions we travelled across the Peruvian Highlands, that we lost count. We later found out from one of our guides that traditionally, their hats resemble the form of the nearby mountain. We haven’t seen all the mountains yet; still, so much to discover!
~ Visited in April 2019
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