Threads of Peru Blog

A Day in the life of a Weaver

It is a sunny summer day in Rumira Sondormayo, an Andean village in the highlands of Ollantaytambo, Cusco, surrounded by high mountain peaks and glaciers. Rumira is a typical high-Andean agricultural village with long weaving traditions. In the last years it has taken advantage of the increasing tourism in the region and has diversified its economic activities. Now, most of the men and grown boys in the village work as porters or cooks on the Inca Trail. This has significantly changed the local life style.

During the 6 months of the high tourism season, while most men are away from home for days, the women and older children have to take responsibility for all the house and field works – taking the animals for pasture, working on the chakras (agricultural fields), taking care of the house and the smaller children. In addition, the women help improve the financial stability of the household by weaving traditional cloths and selling them directly to the tourists visiting the village occasionally or on the international market through the support of a NGO.

But let´s take a closer look into the daily life of a woman in Rumira Sondormayo.

Justina is married and has three children, two girls aged  5 and 2 and a one-year old boy. The older girl attends school.  Justina herself is 25 years old and never went to school. She wakes up with the rising of the sun, at about 4:30-5:00 am. The first thing she does in the morning is to pray to God. Then, she starts cooking the meal for the day, which usually consists of potatoes or lisa (Andean legume), sometimes she will make a chuño soup (soup of ice dried potatoes).

Cooking the evening mealAfter breakfast she sends her daughter to school and goes to the fields with the animals and her two other children. If her husband isn’t working on the Inca Trail, he would be helping out in the potatoes fields, Justina would bring him the lunch and they would eat together. She is always spinning or preparing the yarn for weaving while taking out the animals for pasture, working on the field or at home. Sometimes, Justina even brings her weaving to the fields to finish it.

The women often weave outside in the summertime

After lunch, Justina´s daughter comes back from school and goes to help her mother with the animals or do her homework. Justina goes back home at dusk, brings the animals to their corral and starts to prepare the evening meal. After the family has their dinner together, Justina cleans up the kitchen and goes to bed at around 8 pm.