Stories from Peru

  "This place was a small town; our ancestors lived here, their houses were here, and you can still see the remnants of what used to be. You can see that further down, there are still some houses that remain from that time. Our ancestors even used to have water up here, nobody knows how they brought it here, but they had it. Over there, across the way, you can see the community of Rosaspata. There were pre-Inka and Inka who lived there, and when our ancestors saw them, they would throw stones at them from here. In that time, our people would live out their lives during the night, and work by the light of the moon. They believed that when the sun came out, they would die, so they would hide in their small stone houses, but the sun would burn them anyways." - Carolina Silvia Loaiza

 

"This place was a small town; our ancestors lived here, their houses were here, and you can still see the remnants of what used to be. You can see that further down, there are still some houses that remain from that time. Our ancestors even used to have water up here, nobody knows how they brought it here, but they had it. Over there, across the way, you can see the community of Rosaspata. There were pre-Inka and Inka who lived there, and when our ancestors saw them, they would throw stones at them from here. In that time, our people would live out their lives during the night, and work by the light of the moon. They believed that when the sun came out, they would die, so they would hide in their small stone houses, but the sun would burn them anyways." - Carolina Silvia Loaiza

"We have been working with maize since the earliest of times.  We only use natural methods and fertilizers when we work with our crops. If we are late to sow, disease will damage what we have planted, but if we sow with enough time, we know we will have a good harvest. There has been so much change to the climate, and things are not how they used to be, so we always make sure to make an offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth)  and to drink the sacred chicha (beverage made from purple maize) to help us quench our thirst while we sow. We select our seeds in groups determining what will be best for trading, what our animals will consume, and what is best for our own nutrition. When we sow, the whole community participates, everyone helps to select the seeds, and then we organize the seeds into groups and sow according to the intended use of the seeds.  When we finally harvest, the men carry the maize to the storage house where the women manage the maize according to the different needs we have. In Cacchin we have around 10 different varieties. When the days get closer to our sowing time, we look to the stars and the moon for help. When the moon turns a reddish colour, this means the harvest will not be bountiful, but if the moon is a white colour, then will have success. Through the year we make offerings to Pachamama, and when the harvest is abundant, we make an offering with the very best maize cobs. Many of the practices we take part in we have learned from our parents, especially when it is traditional knowledge; we keep passing this down to our own children. Our community sustains itself off maize, because it is maize that provides us with food and income, in this way, maize is to us like our mother and our father. It also allows us to participate in the barter market, and through the market we can trade for different foods, like fruits and vegetables, and other things we cannot find in our community. With maize, we can prepare soups, make mote (rehydrated kernels), cancha (popped corn), chicha, and also make flour and torrejas (frittata)." - Carolina Silvia Loaiza

"We have been working with maize since the earliest of times.  We only use natural methods and fertilizers when we work with our crops. If we are late to sow, disease will damage what we have planted, but if we sow with enough time, we know we will have a good harvest. There has been so much change to the climate, and things are not how they used to be, so we always make sure to make an offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth)  and to drink the sacred chicha (beverage made from purple maize) to help us quench our thirst while we sow. We select our seeds in groups determining what will be best for trading, what our animals will consume, and what is best for our own nutrition. When we sow, the whole community participates, everyone helps to select the seeds, and then we organize the seeds into groups and sow according to the intended use of the seeds.  When we finally harvest, the men carry the maize to the storage house where the women manage the maize according to the different needs we have. In Cacchin we have around 10 different varieties.

When the days get closer to our sowing time, we look to the stars and the moon for help. When the moon turns a reddish colour, this means the harvest will not be bountiful, but if the moon is a white colour, then will have success. Through the year we make offerings to Pachamama, and when the harvest is abundant, we make an offering with the very best maize cobs. Many of the practices we take part in we have learned from our parents, especially when it is traditional knowledge; we keep passing this down to our own children.

Our community sustains itself off maize, because it is maize that provides us with food and income, in this way, maize is to us like our mother and our father. It also allows us to participate in the barter market, and through the market we can trade for different foods, like fruits and vegetables, and other things we cannot find in our community. With maize, we can prepare soups, make mote (rehydrated kernels), cancha (popped corn), chicha, and also make flour and torrejas (frittata)." - Carolina Silvia Loaiza

"This is a canchon (a closed off plot), here we use Miska and Mahuay (early sowing methods), and this why you see the maize is sprouting up in uniform and separating; this is the effect heat has on the crops, we haven’t had rain here in a long time, and because we are very high up, the grain matures very slowly and the leaves stay green longer than usual; and it is this is why we practice Miska. What is sown in the lower regions will be taller than the maize in this plot, and it will also take less time to mature. This is why we use the Miska method and plant early. This plot will be ready for harvest in six months. Men do much of the hard labour with maize, like the sowing and the transportation, but women do all the Pankiy (replanting) and we oversee the controlling of weeds and pests. We also prepare food and chicha to bring it to the plot." - Carolina Silvia Loaiza

"This is a canchon (a closed off plot), here we use Miska and Mahuay (early sowing methods), and this why you see the maize is sprouting up in uniform and separating; this is the effect heat has on the crops, we haven’t had rain here in a long time, and because we are very high up, the grain matures very slowly and the leaves stay green longer than usual; and it is this is why we practice Miska. What is sown in the lower regions will be taller than the maize in this plot, and it will also take less time to mature. This is why we use the Miska method and plant early. This plot will be ready for harvest in six months. Men do much of the hard labour with maize, like the sowing and the transportation, but women do all the Pankiy (replanting) and we oversee the controlling of weeds and pests. We also prepare food and chicha to bring it to the plot." - Carolina Silvia Loaiza

"Here we prepare chicha; first we soak the maize for three nights, and after we take them out to make wiñapu  (the soaked kernels used to make chicha), and then we can continue to make the chicha with this. We bring chicha with us to the plot when we work and drink it to quench our thirst. We also make Qarwi (toasted kernels) and take this to be grinded into flour so we can make soup. P’ata is made when the shell is taken off with ash and is used to prepare tamales and other things." - Sonia Quispe Titto

"Here we prepare chicha; first we soak the maize for three nights, and after we take them out to make wiñapu  (the soaked kernels used to make chicha), and then we can continue to make the chicha with this. We bring chicha with us to the plot when we work and drink it to quench our thirst. We also make Qarwi (toasted kernels) and take this to be grinded into flour so we can make soup. P’ata is made when the shell is taken off with ash and is used to prepare tamales and other things." - Sonia Quispe Titto

"We work separately with each variety of maize, so when we store the maize, we store them separately too. This room only has the Owina variety. Both men and women store the maize, but the man is the one who does the more physical labour and the women will help out in any other way they can. We select the maize in the drying room and we choose according to five different qualities we need, for seeds, for the barter market, for consumption, for making chicha, and for food for our animals and ourselves. Our traditional knowledge has taught us that in each storage room we must place a Qintu (three coca leaves) with the maize. We place two different Qintus alongside the maize, one from the previous harvest, and a new one for the current harvest; we join the qintus together and burn incense. This is a ritual from our ancestors that it meant to bring bountiful production and ward away scarcity; the Qintu stays in the storage room to protect the maize. We save the Qintu and at the end of the harvest season we show our husbands as proof we had placed it in the room, if we have not saved the Qintu, conflict can arise. If we see our supply is diminishing, we burn incense." - Sonia Quispe Titto

"We work separately with each variety of maize, so when we store the maize, we store them separately too. This room only has the Owina variety. Both men and women store the maize, but the man is the one who does the more physical labour and the women will help out in any other way they can. We select the maize in the drying room and we choose according to five different qualities we need, for seeds, for the barter market, for consumption, for making chicha, and for food for our animals and ourselves.

Our traditional knowledge has taught us that in each storage room we must place a Qintu (three coca leaves) with the maize. We place two different Qintus alongside the maize, one from the previous harvest, and a new one for the current harvest; we join the qintus together and burn incense. This is a ritual from our ancestors that it meant to bring bountiful production and ward away scarcity; the Qintu stays in the storage room to protect the maize. We save the Qintu and at the end of the harvest season we show our husbands as proof we had placed it in the room, if we have not saved the Qintu, conflict can arise. If we see our supply is diminishing, we burn incense." - Sonia Quispe Titto

  "When we remove the kernel from the cob, we start removing from the base or from the top, these seeds are usually damaged and so we only use seeds from the middle of the cob for sowing; this helps us avoid urhua (seeds with no yield).  My mother taught us this method when we were children and I now am passing it on to my children also. It is usually us women who select the seeds, but it is always the men who sow them while the women prepare the food and beverages.  The maize I’m separating right now is the Q’ello variety and we use it for the barter market, to make mote and chicha, and also to sell. The Q’ello variety does well in the barter market, while the Paraqay variety does poorly – in the higher communities Paraqay does well because we use it to prepare tostado (toasted kernel) more than other communities." - Sonia Quispe Ttito, Choquecancha community" - Sonia Quispe Titto

 

"When we remove the kernel from the cob, we start removing from the base or from the top, these seeds are usually damaged and so we only use seeds from the middle of the cob for sowing; this helps us avoid urhua (seeds with no yield).  My mother taught us this method when we were children and I now am passing it on to my children also. It is usually us women who select the seeds, but it is always the men who sow them while the women prepare the food and beverages.  The maize I’m separating right now is the Q’ello variety and we use it for the barter market, to make mote and chicha, and also to sell. The Q’ello variety does well in the barter market, while the Paraqay variety does poorly – in the higher communities Paraqay does well because we use it to prepare tostado (toasted kernel) more than other communities." - Sonia Quispe Ttito, Choquecancha community" - Sonia Quispe Titto