The first time I felt truly overwhelmed with the beauty of the mountains of Peru was the first night at the Llama Pack Project, when the whole group stopped for a moment to take in the beauty of the sunset, setting its face behind the darkening terraces.
As the sun faded away, the constellations of the Milky Way slowly appeared to us, so close it was as if we could reach out to the heavens and touch each star. The mountains and the night sky merged into one at that moment, and as I slept in my tent, I could feel the sacred beauty of the silent, thunderous mountains lulling me to sleep with their hypnotic energy, just as they done to all those who had lived off of their bounty before us.
In the Andes of Perú, there is a unique energy that permeates through every place we’ve been to, an energy characterized by paradoxes. One in which the past and present coexist as one, the climate is both harsh and flexible, and the people live with both immense cultural wealth and crippling economic poverty. But as we have stayed in each community, all with their unique heritage and story, one thing has stood out the most. The resilience of the people
At both Calca and Llama Pack, we were helping the local people with jobs requiring manual labor. Although we tired ourselves within the span of 5 minutes or less, the locals did the whole job as if it didn’t require an ounce of effort. And despite the lack of sufficient support from the government, these communities stay positive, optimistic and grateful about their circumstances, always looking ahead and coming up with new ways to improve their circumstances.
Their determination and tranquility is something to be in awe of, and I believe the whole world has much to learn from these mountain people, forgiving people thriving in an unforgiving environment, making the most of the resources around them, always staying in touch with the spirits of their ancestors and their surroundings.
Much of our lives are about building perspective, understanding the people of world’s present, past, and even future. Staying with the communities here in Peru, we have gained perspectives that we will keep with us for the rest of our lives. They have shared their lives and love with us, illuminating a portion of the collective human experience which we were unaware of before the program, and which is a gift to us that will forever be treasured.
- Written by Isabelle Harper