Traveler Tales – Mariana Suarez
We are so pleased to introduce Cultural Entrepreneur Mariana Suarez who joined us on our very first Textiles of Peru journey last year. Here she shares her tales and beautiful photographs of this once in a lifetime trip.
1. Which tour/tours have you taken with us?
I traveled with you on the first Textiles of Peru tour in May 2019. This has been so far my only experience with the “Traditions of México Cult” — as we so named it jokingly during our trip.
2. Why do you like this kind of immersive travel?
This immersive travel experience made me connect even further with the country’s culture and people. Living the traditions first hand, and having access to the ”off the beaten path” places we traveled to, would have been an odyssey and/or something impossible to achieve on one’s own. For this, I’m immensely grateful to Eric and the team!
3. Why us?
I first learned about Traditions Mexico through a newsletter I received from Threads of Peru, and when I saw the images and description of each of the activities of the tour … it just felt like a dream and therefore a must !
4. Share with us something fascinating that you learned.
On the 6th day we visited the very remote town of Parobamba, where we were received with great enthusiasm and hospitality by the Master Dyer and his wife, whom had prepared for us an introductory session to the process of natural dyes. It was fascinating to learn about the complexities behind it, such as the manipulation of the PH levels which must be altered depending on the natural element, and/or the combination of the various elements used to achieve a certain color. Getting a taste of this process awakened my interest to further explore and learn the science behind natural dyes.
5. Share one stand out moment with us?
Oh there were so many …. But one in particular which I keep revisiting was our arrival at the highlands community of Chaullacocha! The landscape, the crisp cold, the faces of each one of the members of the community, their excitement upon our arrival, their genuinely shy giggles … the colors! Those very bright, vibrant colors! The warm gestures of hello! Their smiles and penetrating gazes! And the alpaca blessing ceremony … against such breathtaking landscapes. What more can one ask for, it was a sublime moment and one I shall always feel blessed for having experienced thanks to Traditions of Mexico and Textiles of Peru.
6. In what way has your travel experience impacted or influenced your life back home?
I truly feel that my trip to Peru has made me a better person, for I feel more connected to the beauty of our planet and having experienced the warmth, humbleness and hospitality of the people from the Andes has made me more aware of what we must all strive to give to each person we have by our side and those that cross our path daily.
7. Share with us something you brought home and where is it now?
I brought home precious weaves from each stop along the way (and may Eric be witness to it). But one item in particular that I would like to share an anecdote about is this beautiful, very soft, off-white wool scarf that I brought as a gift for my husband. When we arrived at the Upis community and I saw it hanging from the cord next to the other weaves, it immediately caught my eye for it was unusual to find amongst these communities a plain textile woven in a solid, neutral color …. Though when I grabbed it I thought ‘hmmm this might just be too a bit too warm for him and thus he might not wear it’. Nonetheless I couldn’t leave it behind!, and to my surprise, to this day there has not been one winter day that he hasn’t worn it. He absolutely loves it and having seen the selfie I took with the lady artisan whom wove it made it even much more special to him. I love seeing him enjoy it as much, and through its presence we are reminded of the Upis and their beautiful community.
8. Food that you really enjoyed! Food that you didn’t
In every stop there was something very delicious which had been prepared for us by the community with great love. I recall the potato! and potato! soups … they were soooo comforting. Dinner at Don Melchor’s house was very special and ohhhh! Lunch at the bread maker’s home was a true feast ! The only food I didn’t enjoy was the breakfast at the hotel in Cusco which simply lacked care and attention.
9. A funny anecdote… or a challenge you can laugh about now?
I still laugh looking back at that afternoon when we arrived at a hotel in Huaro and we had to download everything from the van and oh my! We were the spitting image of the tourist photo that Eric had sent in his travel itinerary and had warned us not to look as such — a couple carrying several heavy bags while walking through Cusco’s cobblestone streets, looking as ridiculous as we did back then ! While we were being filmed and photographed, I did my best to hide one or two of my bags to make myself look as if I was traveling much more lightly … “Walk as gracefully as you can” I kept telling myself ! Andres and Eric had to help carry a few things and they just couldn’t believe the volume and weight we’d accumulated … But at this point they could only laugh at such a scene and oh well, despite our embarrassment we were laughing at ourselves in hysterics !
10. Tips or advice for people thinking about taking a tour like this in the future?
Be as present as you possibly can … touch, feel, taste, smell, gaze — because every moment is so special and unique you will want to immortalize them in your memory.
If you would like to join our 2020 Textiles of Peru trip, you can find out more on our website.