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On the bus the other day headed for a community meeting in Huaran, I was reading a book while some documents I’d just printed for Huaran and Cancha Cancha rested on my lap, not wanting to crumple them. The woman seated beside me took the occasion of my asking her if she would be getting down at this bus stop to congratulate me on my work, which she had surmised from peeping at my papers. She took my hands in hers firmly and smiled emphatically at me with the whole of her face, displaying no less than five gold teeth. We were thus bound forever by such an easily extended love, and she helped me to carry my things to the next bus where we sat together and chatted amicably. She also laughingly waved off the bus driver on my behalf, who inquired in Quechua as to my marital status. She took my hands in hers frequently throughout and offered her gratitude for the work of Q’ente on behalf of all the Sacred Valley, perhaps even all living creatures. This merry encounter reminded me of just how happy I am to be doing what I’m doing with Q’ente, hiking to remote villages, coming to know the weavers and their ways, petting alpacas, learning songs in Quechua and to recognize plants for their dyes and their medicines, having this incredibly rich experience which I recognize for its commensurate rarity. The novelty is ebbing gradually into familiarity, and while I think wistfully of home often I am also creating a new one.

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