Bienvenidos a Peru!

Heading across Lake Titicaca

First, a bit of a disclaimer: this is your unapologetically turistica introduction to the beautiful land of Peru!

Right now I don’t quite have the perspective or internet bandwidth to post about all the deeply moving stories I’ve experienced so far in this amazing country. So I’m just going to give you the view from 15,000 feet .. which is approximately how high I am today in Pasco City, the highest city in Peru. (And yes, that is the sound of my heart pounding, trying to pump oxygen to my brain.)

Peru is severely beautiful .. with miles of ocean shoreline and the Andes (sierra) and the jungle (selva). It’s bordered by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile and is packed with silver, gold, copper and zinc – making it well-nigh irresistible to mining interests that never saw a mountain they didn’t want to level.

Although the country’s economy has improved dramatically over the past decade, the indigenous people in the Highlands (where Heifer does most of its work) are still overwhelmingly poor, ferociously independent, and definitely know how to rock a hat.  

In the center of Marcopata, we saw a statue that pretty much captures the Highland spirit. The bull represents the Spaniards who colonized Peru. The condor tied to its back is the indigenous people, who claw and fight to be released from bondage – literally drawing blood.

These proud descendants of the Inca Empire are going to need every shred of that irrepressible spirit today to resist the triple threat of mining companies, urbanization, and climate change. Almost one-third of the country’s 30 million inhabitants now lives in Lima, yet you know it must kill something inside these proud people to leave their mountains and ancient traditions to descend to the arid pull of the city.

Heifer’s projects are mostly in the high central plateau, where it is developing programs that support the Highlanders’ traditional pursuits of raising alpaca and llama, growing potatoes, and making handicrafts – working with communities to make these pursuits economically viable, entrepreneurial, and sustainable.

Which means that more children can grow up with a future in the countryside they love, and preserve the land and traditions that are under siege. 

I can’t wait to share those stories… just as soon as I can breathe properly again. It’s gonna be epic!

Categories: Agriculture, Animals, Heifer International, Hunger, Peru, Photography, Poverty, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “Bienvenidos a Peru!

  1. Ginger O'Neill

    Hi Betty,

    Wonderful to hear from you. The photographs are remarkable and I think you have captured the spirit of resilience in the photographs of these magnificently independent people.

    Can’ wait to hear more of your stories.



    • Ginger, I can’t wait to WRITE more of them … phew! What a trip, but I’m glad to be going home, too.
      Sometimes, even for me, the travel gets a little much .. and often, I don’t know how I feel until I get back on my third floor and think it all through. What a gorgeous country, though — and how ABOUT those faces??!

  2. Beautiful pics. It looks chilly, is it cold? Looks almost ancient, love the clothing, makes me want to dress up. Actually they look like the dolls my grandmother used to bring home from all over the world.:)

    • It was FREEZING in the high country (particularly outside Cusco — when you stepped outside you could see your breath in huge white vapor clouds. But very, very warm in Lima (like Atlanta) so it was a bit disconcerting … I was constantly taking things off and putting things on. The fabrics here are amazing — the people are phenomenal at handicrafts and I’ll be doing a whole post on their weaving and textiles … stay tuned!!

  3. sarah

    Peru sounds really exciting, Betty – I can’t wait to hear more!

  4. betty, betty, betty! WHat a great intro! Can hardly wait to read more about the Heifer adventure.

    • Hey Chris — so HAPPY you are along for the ride! Peru is amazing .. and you would not believe the work that Heifer is doing … not to mention all that I now know about guinea pigs!! xoxoxox b

  5. Deb Morrow Palmer

    Those faces are priceless. I love Peruvian crafts and alpaca wool is the softest. I originally went to college for textile design and weaving!!Ha!! How life changes a person. I so look forward to hearing more. As for the altitude, it kills me every time we go west skiing and the locals say “Don’t drink red wine!” Are you kidding me??

  6. Not drinking red wine … hmmm. I usually just go for the beer, but at the really high altitudes you really don’t feel like eating or drinking anything. Just sleeping … I thought I was in pretty good shape because of all my years living in Colorado, but I have to tell you, it felt like somebody was sitting on my chest! I can’t wait to write about the alpacas … and wait til you see the pictures! They are SO adorable!!

  7. p.s. Debbie — I had NO idea your degree was in textiles and weaving! You are amazing…

  8. Planted purple Peruvian potatoes the other day in your honor, Betty!

    • I love that, Pattie! Can’t wait to write my What I Ate in Peru post .. and tell you all about the potatoes there. They were incredible!!! xoxoox b

  9. OMG, Betty, I can’t believe how stunningly beautiful it is. I have traveled little in South America–have only been in Venezuela. I especially love the photo of the baby at the end of this post. How precious! Can’t wait for more of your stories!

  10. Oh my, these photos are showstoppers. I’m awaiting your blog on the textiles and handicrafts. Betty, you must publish your work.

    • Deb Morrow Palmer

      I agree with Kathy, you should put this together in an amazing book of great stories!

  11. Kevin

    WoW! What a beautiful place, as well as beautiful people. Thanks Betty for going beyond the call to share with us these amazing adventures. You are truly missed, yet to read your words is truly inspirational. Love you !! & £O¥€

  12. etexbill

    Beautiful photos and a fantastic blog. Thanks for the work that you do.

  13. Love the photos Betty (this is a recording).

    Assume guinea pigs are for eating ? What a thought. Imagine we started raising and eating our own food here (guinea pigs and rabbits for example), and got rid of the factory farms … hmmmm

  14. Pingback: Heifer 12 x 12 Peru Round-Up | Heifer Blog

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