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A few weeks ago Ana, Gustavo, Barcelia and I traveled to the communities of Parobamba and Pitukiska for their monthly weaving association meetings. Saturday morning I woke up bright and early for just the start of my travels to the highland communities. At 3:45am, it began with a short walk to Ana’s apartment, down the hill. Don’t worry mom, the street dogs were still asleep. Then a thirty minute taxi to the bus station. Then an hour and a half bus ride to Calca. Followed by the most interesting mode of transportation I’ve ever taken part in, a fruit truck. The name can be deceiving, as I didn't see one piece of fruit being transported all weekend. My first fruit truck experience, on Saturday morning, included about fifteen other people, a cardboard box full of ducklings, one shaggy dog, and six cows. It was a long six hours, but with stunning views of glacier topped mountains and many herds of recently shaved alpacas. The panorama view of the Andes around me was pretty incredible, and the settlements that were made on the sides of these mountains had me wondering about their own modes of transportation. When we arrived in Parobamba we visited the towns one small tienda. This stand alone convenient store,

serves triple purpose as the town bar, and restaurant, where raw meat hangs freely and fermenting tripe lines the windowsill. After drinking some coffee we met with the weavers to purchase their textiles and discuss the future development projects they would be taking part in, including the details of the tourist centre that would soon be built. More to come on that project in following weeks. A Parabamba weaver named Brigeda made us a delicious quinoa soup for

dinner, then we headed to bed to prepare for another early start for the journey to Pitukiska. Again at 3:45am we awoke to board the 4:30am ‘fruit’ truck. Unfortunately, the driver had had a bit too much to drink at the town tavern the night before and caused us to get a little off of schedule. This fruit truck, unlike the day before, was covered in a tarp, and held mainly humans. About 30 of us, and one chicken in a bag. Shortly after our departure, some of the men on the truck began smoking. Shortly after that, we picked up a woman travelling with a large propane tank. The back of this truck smelled of leaking propane and tobacco. I held the propane tank between my legs as we went over the bumps, and imagined an escape route if the tarp was to go up in flames. Luckily, we only rode this truck for about an hour before beginning the hike into the valley where the Pitukiska weavers would feed us breakfast. This was the most friendly and kind group of women I have had the opportunity to meet so far. Despite the language barrier of them only speaking Quechua, I could tell they were happy to have us there. Maybe they had an idea of the journey we had endured to reach them. We purchased our

order of textiles and talked with them about the future opportunity of supplying to the Hilton hotel in Cusco. I bought a scarf for myself, and then we began the hike up and out of the valley. Apparently we made it in record time, so we rested at the top. I fell asleep on the mountainside, then woke up to some alpacas staring back at me and the sound of a man announcing that our ride from Parobamba was there. This one and only car, from the town of Parobamba, would take us to the town of Amparae’s where we would be lucky enough to find a bus going straight to Cusco. Once home, we treated ourselves to Italian food and then PIE. It was an unforgettable weekend.

Hello Mosqoy Blog readers!

Madison R. Stewart

(c) Gustavo A. Valenzuela

(c) Madison R. Stewart

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