Yesterday, I wrote about weaving in Huancayo. I spent a week there and created two completely different weavings on a four-pedal loom.
Next, I headed to Patacancha, where I spent three weeks living with a family on a cold mountain in the tiny village of Patacancha, where women support their families by continuing a tradition passed down not just through generations but through thousands of years from the Incas. They use a backstrap loom and natural fibers to create beautiful weavings.
I scheduled my stay in Patacancha through a group called Awamaki. Awamaki not only schedules homestays for people interested in learning the age-old craft of backstrap weaving, but they also help the families earn an income by hosting a store in the nearby town of Ollantaytambo, where they sell the handmade items woven by the women of Patacancha.
One of the most interesting parts of my stay was the language. I know a little Spanish, enough to get by traveling in South America alone. However, I didn’t realize until just a few weeks before I left on my trip, that in Patacancha, families speak the ancient Incan language, Quechua. The children learn some Spanish in school, but my host mother and weaving teacher only spoke Quechua. Therefore, we only communicated through gestures and facial expressions.
Here are a few images from my memorable stay in Patacancha.