Today, we arrived at a traditional Andean village. We all fell a little bit in love with it. We decided to stay a while.
The village is Laraos: a maze of cobbled streets beneath acres of farmland terraced into the steep mountainsides. The village is divided into four quarters, and the work in the farms is rotated between the residents of each quarter systematically. All work must be done by hand, since the mountains are far too steep to get any machinery up there. Once the work is done, the crops are divided equally amongst everyone.
We were greeted with a delicious lunch, alpaca-wool ponchos and traditional hats, and offered a tour of the village and farmlands. Along the way, our guide talked and talked and talked, and we loved her for it. She explained everything from the methods of farming to the local superstitions. “There is a smell in the village called sorrio. When sorrio comes, that means someone has died. If you’re walking on the street and someone throws a stone at you but you can’t see them, that means you will die. If you hear an owl, that also means you will die.”
After the tour, we were invited to have dinner with the family of one of the farmers, Senor Mako. A wonderful man who never stopped smiling, he showed us around his traditional house in the upper quarter of the village, pointing out in particular the guinea pigs he kept for food. When I told him people in Europe kept guinea pigs as pets, he laughed for a full five minutes.
Dinner that evening was cooked by Mako’s wife, and it was a kind of porridge made with corn and limestone. To my surprise, it was delicious. We gathered around the fire, eating the porridge and laughing and chatting. It all seemed a world away from the frozen mountain pass of 24 hours earlier.