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Yesterday, I got back from the Rio Mapacho hiking trip, and I am pleased to report that my first round of solo community visits was a success! I was not tongued tied more than a few times, and we were blessed with equal parts sun and rain! Nataly Vargas (who acted as the Quechua/Spanish translator) and myself visited the communities of Parobamba, Bombón, and Pitukiska. We started our hike in the pouring rain on the dirt road that leads to Parobamba. To combat the bad weather and the long hike ahead of us, Nataly and I started playing word games.

Presto! Sunshine!

We played a game where the player has to use the last letter of the previous word to come up with a new word, but in Spanish it proved difficult because most words end with O, A or E. Needless to say, we started groaning at every O and A! Steadily, in our bright green and orange ponchos we kept walking and wording all the way to Parobamba. When we arrived, Nataly’s family had warm food waiting for us, a lunch of sheep liver, eggs, and corn. The sheep liver was surprisingly good, a real treat after a long hike in the rain!

Nataly is from the community of Parobamba and, at the age of 16, she is already an accomplished weaver, having learned from her mother Brigida, a member of the weaving association in Parobamba. Nataly has recently been selected as an incoming Mosqoy student. She will start studying nursing this spring with the aspiration of later switching into medicine. Her dream is to become a doctor, with the hope of doing a practicum in Canada. Personally, I have faith in her dream of becoming a doctor, and hopefully doing a practicum in Canada, and noted while I was visiting Parobamba that the community definitely needs a permanent doctor.

Simeona Quispe Tapara

Returning to the topic of weaving, I want to share with you an excerpt from a weavers interview I did in Bombón. Meet Simeona Quispe Tapara (picture on right). Simeona's interview was especially interesting because she reiterated what Ashli Akins has said to me on a previous trip, "if Q'ente stops coming to these communities the weavers stop weaving." Simeona affirmed this statement during her recent interview with me, by saying, "if I sell textiles I dedicate myself to weaving, if I do not sell textiles I get discouraged and stop weaving." Therefore, one of Q'ente's goals is to make sure weavers like Simoena keep weaving and keep the Quechua textile tradition alive. Q'ente does this through providing weavers in the Peruvian Andes a market in Canada to sell their magnificent textiles. The interview with Simeona deepened my understanding of the direct impact that Q'ente has upon individual weavers, and really their identities, of wether or not they are weavers.

Otherwise happy new year! In the new year I will be starting a Directed Study through the University of Victoria, the research will be an ethnobotany practicum on plant dyes used in the textiles that Q'ente sells. I am exited about this coming learning experience and will be sure to share what I learn through this blog!

A variety of naturally dyed yarn on a weaver's dirt floor as she starts to choose which colours to use in her next weaving!

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