Threads of Peru Blog

A Saturday afternoon in the Andes

weaving associations to visit in three communities

Sarah Confer has been involved with Threads of Peru since 2012, firstly as the on the ground Project Coordinator and then later as a Projects Advisor.  Sarah is also a Co-Founder of another textiles project, Q'ente and the revitalisation of the ancient weaving tradition is her passion; she is also a Textile Conservator and works in museums in Canada, when she is not in the field in Peru!  Here, Sarah enjoys a Saturday afternoon in the Andes with the weavers and provides insight into the work of Threads of Peru and Andean rural life!

With four weaving associations to visit in three communities, Dana and I definitely had our work cut out for us last weekend! Our next production period is coming up very soon and we had lots to discuss with our long-time partners in Rumira Sondormayo and Chaullaqocha, as well as a couple of introductory visits to two associations in another nearby community, who may soon join our roster of weavers.

weaving associations to visit in three communities

Despite our hectic schedule, after our mid-day meeting in Chaullaqocha on Saturday we decided to indulge in the beautiful, sunny afternoon. Taking our cue from the rest of the community who were enjoying some time shopping, chit-chatting and drinking frutillada in the shade of the weekly fruit truck, we relaxed with one of the weavers and her family.

At only 25, Demesia is one of the youngest members of Ticllay Warmi, but one of the most active, and an excellent weaver. Originally from Huilloc, she moved to Chaullaqocha at 18, when she married her husband, Agustin.

weaving associations to visit in three communities

Arriving at their house, we sat in the yard, playing with their three young children and enjoying the warm sun. After lunch, Agustin agreed to take us fishing at the lake behind their house. “Chaullaqocha” means “fish lake” and we had heard that it was in fact abundant with trout, and that Agustin was an accomplished fisherman. We were not disappointed! We watched in amazement as Agustin waded into the flowing stream that fed off the lake, reached under a rock and hooked a big trout, with his bare hands!

Our translator Fernando
Our translator Fernando, and Dana celebrate the catch of the day!

Our translator Fernando, and Dana celebrate the catch of the day!

Prize in hand, we hiked on to another part of the lake. From there, the house was no longer visible, and all we could see were alpacas grazing on the rolling hillside, lit by the brilliant sun. Agustin stood on the shore, twirling the fishing line fixed with a hook at the end, before releasing it into the water. As it whistled through the air, Dana and I could not believe how far he was able to cast it. Fernando, a tourism student who accompanied us as our Quechua translator, caught onto the technique really quickly, and managed to catch our second fish of the day. Dana and I both tried our hand as well, but all we caught was lake grass. Clearly we need more practise!

Back at Demesia’s home, we spent the evening sitting in front of the cooking fire and swapping stories. Demesia showed us photos from when she first met Ariana, from her wedding and the arrival of her first child, and even from her high school days! Lo and behold, Dana spotted another familiar face among the students from Demesia’s class picture – Mercedes, a weaver from Rumira Sondormayo!

weaver from Rumira Sondormayo

Huddled together in front of the fire to keep warm against the cold as night descended, we chatted and laughed and joked with each other. Since I only get to spend a couple months a year out here, I found this time shared together really special. It reminded me how the work we do here is as much about the personal bonds we form with the weavers and their families as it is about our business relationship, buying and promoting their work.

After finishing our delicious meal of hand-caught trout, we stepped out of the kitchen and into the darkness. The stars took our breath away. High up in the mountains, with no electric light, we were treated to the most spectacular view of the night sky. No matter how many times I’ve experienced it, the feeling of the cold night air against the backdrop of the dazzling array of stars is a tangible reminder of why we’re here doing this work, and is something that stays with you forever.

Do you want to learn more about Andean Rural Life?

take a look at our communities pages or support these Quechua weavers by browsing our shop!