November 18th, 2014
Families on the Move
We have been blessed to connect with many amazing families online, all of whom have adapted a travel lifestyle in one form or another. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to them here and highlight the positive aspects travel has had on their families. Welcome our interview series called Families on the Move. Miro & I are honored to a part of this global community we consider our extended family.
Meet The Amazing Family Behind And Off We Went
Could you tell us a little about your family.
Michelle Tupy – Age 42 – Michelle is a ghostwriter who loves to read, travel and relax with a good movie.
Matt Tupy – Age 57 – Matt is a hotel manager and English teacher who enjoys travelling and playing the guitar.
Emilia Tupy – Age 9 – Emilia enjoys singing and writing poetry and loves chocolate milkshakes and chocolate cupcakes.
Matthew Tupy – Age 4 – Matthew is a huge Michael Jackson fan and loves to show off his moonwalk and zombie dancing skills.
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We are currently managing a hostel in Cusco until mid-February 2015 although have been traveling for as long as we can remember. Actually since arriving in Cusco in July 2013 (now November 2014), this has been the longest time we have ever spent in one destination since my husband and I met over 10 years ago. Countries to date include Australia, Canada, China and Thailand.
Why do you travel as a family?
My husband and I have always been travellers, even before we met, so it made sense to keep on travelling once the children came along. Why change the habit of a lifetime?
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result of your travels?
Seeing the kids experience a place they have read about in real life has been an amazing eye-opener for them. When they hear places like Machu Picchu or Niagara Falls on television, they light up because they realize they have actually been there and seen it with their own eyes. It opens them up to a world that is bigger than their books or television. We also find that we spend more quality time together when we are travelling. We aren’t so focused on work or the busy-ness of life; traveling allows you to enjoy the moment of just “being”.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
Going to a destination or another country for a week or two doesn’t allow you to get a real feel for the place or the culture, not to mention being a costly way to travel. We like to go somewhere for longer period of time, to connect with those around us and find a way to make a living wherever our current destination may be. As a ghostwriter I can take my work with me as long as I can get a website connection and as my husband generally finds work of some kind in each destination whether it is property management or English teaching.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
We use a variety of methods when it comes to our education options, worldschooling first and foremost. My 4 year old son loves going to school to meet the kids and play with them – it is so fun to see him connect with others in Spanish. My daughter has never liked traditional schooling so we do a mix of homeschooling (we cover the basics of math, English, social science and science when the mood takes us), we do online courses (she is currently doing an online art course with a teacher in Ohio), we take advantage of local groups (my daughter does dance and attends a local writer’s group to share her poetry) and we do traditional classes for shorter periods (we like summer school which covers more of the art and music subjects my daughter enjoys). It works for us!
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
For us it has always been that way. I am Australian and have for many years lived outside my country of birth and it is the same for my Canadian born husband. I don’t consider myself one nationality – I like to think of myself as a global citizen and I want my children to think of themselves the same way. We are all connected regardless of what our country of birth is – the borders of a country do not define us.
Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?
Coming to Peru was a really big deal for us as it was our first time in South America – although we had been planning it in our heads for a long time. It was always my dream to go to Machu Picchu ever since I was a young girl so it was fun taking my kids there and letting them see it in all its glory – just sitting back and watching them on the train was a very emotional experience for me. Also seeing my daughter participate in an international beauty pageant in Arequipa will forever stand out in my mind. She went from being a fun loving girl to someone who possessed all of this worldly confidence in a matter of minutes. Experiences like that really make it all worthwhile.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an ‘aha moment’
I think when we decided to set up the B&B in Cusco, Casa Emilia, named after our daughter – we thought why not. Let’s just do it! Many thought we were crazy and still do but if you don’t take a chance when it appears in front of you (despite the risks and challenges) then you can’t fully embrace what life has to offer.
Our “what next” is super exciting. We are planning a trip from Cusco, Peru to Niagara Falls, Canada in a VW Kombi. I want to write about our experience, our adventures, our worldschooling and our meaningful travel opportunities and interview other worldschoolers and travellers along the way. We have partnered up with an amazing organisation called GlobeDrop who are fully behind our adventure. They have created a free web application that allows travellers to connect and communicate with social welfare establishments and NGOs around the world enabling them to give donations of goods direct to them without going through a middle man. We can’t wait to visit many of these NGOs and organisations and show support for their cause through our stories and blog adventures. What a great opportunity for all of us to do some good in the world. Our kids are our future and we need to show them that they can make a difference, on all levels.
Name: Michelle Tupy
web site: AndOffWeWent.com
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November 2nd, 2014
8 “must try” traditional Dishes of Ecuador
The geographical set up of Ecuador is blessed with a variety of natural ingredients. The large coastal region of Ecuador makes seafood plenty. There are much kind of traditional Andean crops like potatoes and grains like quinoa and corn that are cultivated in the mountainous strip that is in the middle of Ecuador. The region is tropical thus produces a number of exotic fruits. The Ecuadorian diet is made of staples like yuca, potatoes, beans, rice, seafood, chicken, plantains, pork and beef. Aji is a chili pepper hot sauce found in Ecuador. My favorite 8 Traditional Dishes of Ecuador are as follows:
Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche
Mmmmmmm…. This is the most common Ecuadorian dish and a favorite to all. The dish is made the following methods: combine peeled onion with mix with lime juice then add salt and put aside, combine 4 cups of water, reserved onion slice, 2 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper all in a medium saucepan then boil. You can add shrimp and blanch for one to two minutes or till lightly pink, you can remove the shrimp then drain then add tomato mixture, shrimp, onion and lime juice mix well and cover before you cool and finally you can add cilantro and oil then mix to combine. After the exercise you can serve the dish with popcorn, plantain chips, and roasted corn kernels. For more info on making this fabulous dish, check this link out.
Biche de Pescado – Ecuadorian Fish Stew
Biche de pescado is a fantastic Andrew stew, chock full of traditional local ingredients such as coconut, corn, plantain, yuca and peanuts. It is simple to make, even though it has a complex taste that boasts both sweet and exotic. Sweet plantains and peanut broth are perfectly complemented with the local fish flavor. Most stores that sell Latin products have frozen yuca (tolled and stringy fibers removed). But if you don’t mind doing the work, the homemade version is that much more satisfying. I’d recommend using super ripe plantain and fresh coconut. The stew works well with many different kinds of local fish. If you are sensitive to heads floating in your soup, remove it from the broth first before mixing. But typically the broth is flavored by the whole fish, head, bones and tail and the Ecuadorians aren’t afraid of leaving remnants in the soup. But the flavor, absolutely divine! Once you’ve tasted this dish, you’ll want to eat it EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Humitas Verdes – Fresh Corn Tamales with Cilantro
We’ve all had tamales before, the Ecuadorian version is truly a must-try-flavor! Humitas is a kind of tamal that is made with ground fresh corn apart from the usual dried corn meal known as masa harina. The ground fresh corn makes humitas taste sweet than the traditional tamales. The humitas are prepared from the large Kernel Andean corn known as choclo that are always found in frozen section of Latina food stores. Luckily here, we can buy directly from the fresh markets directly from the farmer. (Sorry, I know you are jealous.) The humitas verdes trademark bright green color is given by cilantro. You can prepare humitas plain, a combination of cheese, olives, roast chicken, hard boiled eggs, roast pork. It is up to you to decide. We haven’t made them yet, but I just might roll up my sleeves and give it a shot. Here’s a fabulous post by Hungry Sophia on Ecuadorian tamales.
Ecuadorian Potato Cakes (Llapingachos)
They are also known as yah-peen-GAH-chos. These are Ecuadorian traditional dishes referred to as potato pancakes that are made from crushed potatoes seasoned with onions and sated with cheese. Um yum! Salsa de Mani is a creamy peanut sauce that is typically with Llapingachos and is served often alongside, avocado, a simple salad, chorizo sausage and fried egg for the meal to complete. They remind us a little of a cross between pupusa and latkes…
Fritada de chancho or Ecuadorian pork fritada
Fritada de chancho is a popular weekend dish here in Ecuador. The pork is cooked in a sweet mixture of orange juice and water, seasoned by onions, cumin garlic, salt & pepper until the liquid cooks down, browning the meat through the process. This is a typical plate from the highlands region of Ecuador and is traditionally found in restaurants and snack stalls throughout the weekend local Andean villages. This tasty combination is a clear example of cultural mixture between the Spanish culinary tradition and local Ecuadorian traditions, as pork consumption did not occur in America until after the Spanish colonized over 500 years ago. This dish would not be the same without the readily available local ingredients: mote (range white corn), plantains, potatoes, pickled (marinated tomato and onion with lemon) and roasted corn.
Encebollados (literally, “onionateds”) are a wonderful local food, though not well known outside of Ecuador. This is a traditional Ecuadorian coastal dish that consists of seafood in a tangy, tomatoey soup with mashed yuca, onion and coriander. Our friend’s father brought this to the beach with us one morning and I thought he was crazy, but after I tried it, I was hooked! This dish can be made with varying degrees of lemon juice according to taste, and served with toasted corn or fried slices of plantain called chifles. That morning I was informed, this was the special Ecuadorian coast remedy said to cure hangovers. Did I need it that particular morning on the beach? I’ll never tell.
Choclo con queso
Choclo con queso literally means corn with cheese. It’s simple but certainly an Ecuadorian staple. Cobs of Andean corn or choclo having large kernels and I think taste quite different compared to corn that is sold. It’s mellow in flavor, actually. Then, it’s generously slathered with a fresh soft cheese, similar in consistency to tofu. The queso fresco is literally fresh cheese and always made locally in each town. Choclo con queso on the cobb can be found in any food stand from the coast to the midlands, to the mountains to the jungle. In restaurants, this dish is often served along side a meat dish, already removed from the cobb.
Yes, like just over the border to Peru, the guinea pig is still the most talked dishes about when discussing Ecuadorian tradition fares. We listed this on our post 8 Traditional Dishes of Peru but it just happens to be a favorite in this country as well. Cuy is served in most Andean towns and is primarily on special occasions. When we wrote the post about Peruvian food, we hadn’t actually tried cuy, but since then, we have!!!! And, guess, what??? It’s delicious!
Like Peru, Ecuadorian dishes vary according to its geography which has its own distinct flavor and flare. While traveling anywhere, we always urge you to try the local favorites sampling something new as a chance to embrace a new culture.
In 2015 we are hosting a teen retreat in Ecuador! Join us taste these dishes + more at our Project World School teen retreat:
About Project World School
Project World School International Retreats
Teens and young adults are invited to participate in one of Project World School‘s immersive learning events in 2015. Designed for homeschoolers, unschoolers and democratic learners alike, we offer immersive multi day retreats formed as a Temporary Learning Community. Each retreat utilizes the enigmatic landscape of each country as the canvas for exploration and discovery.
For the 2015-2016 season we will be producing retreats in Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina.
Each retreat focuses on a specific theme related to each of our host countries. Our learning communities merge immersive learning experiences with personal and social development focusing on global citizenship, cultural sensitivity, developing relationships, through exploring ethics and conflict resolution.
Participants both lead and follow in an atmosphere of dynamic co-creation and immersive discovery. Each day builds upon the last, with every exploration leading the group into uncharted directions. However, this is not your typical study abroad program. Project World School utilizes the power of a learning community to produce a project driven by goals, knowledge acquisition, and changes in a global perspective.
The majority of our events are designed specifically for teens and young adults. However we will be announcing a family retreat later in the year.
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October 24th, 2014
What are the differences between “unschooling” and “worldschooling”?
The definition to both words are not unanimously agreed upon among the practitioners or communities involved. But here is my take on it:
A general definition of “unschooling” is to live as if school does not exist. There are deeper philosophies at the foundation of the unschooling movement that include supported self-directed learning as an outcome of natural learning, usually facilitated by the parent(s).
Some even incorporate the “child-led” philosophy into every aspect of the learners life, allowing complete freedom not just focused on learning, but within food choices, bedtimes and hygiene issues as well. They are known as “radical unschoolers”.
Others incorporate project based learning or other forms of formalized curriculum into the mix and consider themselves “relaxed” or “eclectic unschoolers”.
There is no one way to unschool. Unschooling is primarily about process not content. The process of learning, the process of knowing yourself, openness, confidence, self-determination, independent thinking, critical thinking….none of which one gets when following other people’s agenda. Making one’s own agenda is what it is all about. This is done not in isolation but in the context of ones family and community. ~Joel Hawthorne
From a post called So, what is unschooling, anyway? I write:
Unschooling is a term that the late John Holt coined in the late ‘70′s to describe learning that is based on a child’s interests and needs. Unschooling does not begin with a parent’s notion of what is important to learn and then turn the choices of how to learn the content over to a child. Rather, it begins with the child’s natural curiosity and expands from there. Unschooling is not “instruction free” learning. If a child wants to learn to read, an unschooling parent may offer instruction by providing help with decoding, reading to the child, and giving the child ample opportunity to encounter words. If the child is uninterested in these supports, the parent backs off until the child asks for help. The most important thing about the unschooling process is that the child is in charge of the learning, not the adult. Unschoolers often do no traditional school work, yet they do learn traditional subject matter. They learn it as a natural extension of exploring their own personal interests.
We have just started our sixth year of traveling and unschooling combined and we’ve transitioned into calling ourselves “worldschoolers”.
Because as self directed learners who travel, there is just a little more to our learning experiences.
We believe once you combine travel and unschooling, we can’t help but to learn from the world around us, amplified through travel. In simple terms, the world teaches.
It’s pretty natural from the standpoint of being an unschooling parent, allowing the environment to guide our learning experiences. Yes, as a ‘parent and child’ who share the world, I have become an unschooled-learner too. But I have made a pretty keen observation recently: Learning happens without the formality of “teaching”, whether a family is unschooling or not. What I mean is that a child develops his (or her) inner-most-core through examples, experiences and the observations of the world around them.
For us, travel has become the expression of that freedom.
Since learning happens naturally, the freedom to be exposed to new interests through travel has literally transformed the world into an interactive classroom for us. We find ourselves stimulated with the newness of our daily surroundings. We have no problems being inspired to try new things and even step out of our comfort zones, deep into the unknown.
But it’s not just about adventure, thrill seeking or superficial travel experiences.
We’ve genuinely been inspired research beyond each experience with a deep desire to know (learn) more .
I am certain Miro’s interest permaculture likely would not have blossomed from our old urban homestead in downtown Los Angeles as easily as it has here, visiting indigenous farms and volunteering in Latin America. Equally, my newly developed deep passion for ancient cultures would not have developed had I not had the opportunity to visit all of the wonderful archeological sites we’ve encountered from Mexico to Peru.
Quite literally, the world has been transformed into a classroom.
What is Worldschooling?
Miro and I and define the meaning of “worldschooling” in this way:
My son and I practice principles of self directed learning known as unschooling….with one clear addition: learning from ideas we are exposed to as a result of our travel experiences.
What does worldschooling look like for us?
Miro and I are self proclaimed “radical unschoolers”, as we move through our learning and traveling journey together. Miro guides his learning through his interests and makes his own decisions about how and what to peruse. And I support him along the way.
Since we’ve been living a “travel lifestyle”, those exposures tend to be daily experiences. In other words, by virtue of being in the world, we are exposed to things, ideas, cultures, environments, history and experiences that may have not been guided by either of our interests, rather guided by travel itself.
We see this as an opportunity to research deeper and investigate wider to place context into our experiences. It’s immersive learning, not necessarily driven by interest, rather driven by experience.
I am the admin of a worldschooling group on facebook, all members are interested in worldschooling in some form or another. Education through travel is our common thread, but even among the 700+ members, we tend to define the term worldschooling differently. Some refer to worldschooling as the act of “unschooling” during travel, while others call themselves worldschoolers as expats who enroll their children in local schools throughout the world.
In my opinion, there is no wrong or right way to apply any of the “unschooling” or “worldschooling” terminology. I believe each family needs to breathe their own meaning into what works for them.
Also, make sure to read the point of view of a 15 year old worldschoolers’ thoughts on wordlschooling :
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October 17th, 2014
Miro and I recently relocated to Montañita, a quaint little beach town on Ecuador’s coast as we prepare for our newest Project World School retreat. I’m a huge fan of living on the coast, but our real goal for moving here for the next six months is to plan, prepare, explore and discover the beauty this region has to offer, in hopes of sharing these experience during our teen surf & marine biology retreat next April. That being said, we were excited to discover a truly unique cultural and historical destination just an hour outside of Montañita.
Miro and I took a a day trip to Agua Blanca community found in the Machalilla Parish, which is part of the nature reserve. The Agua Blanca community is a vividly painted rural parish and fishing village in the beautiful Machalilla National Park. The village is the site of several not so well-preserved archaeological ruins from the Mantena culture of around 800 to 1532 A.C. It’s a functioning indigenous village that has colonial ties, and very interesting to see. Most tourist visit Aguas Blanca for its therapeutic mud and sulfur water pool, said to have many medicinal healing effects.
The History of the Agua Blanca Community
The location of the present-day Agua Blanca community is considered to be the ancient capital of the Manteno Lordship of Salangome. Here, more than 3,500 years ago, thousands of people lived in this area, mostly working on the sea-trade routs from Mexico to Peru. The site of the Agua Blanca community is considered to be the largest of the four Manteno Lordships that existed here. Manteno culture is the last pre-Columbian civilization in Ecuador.
Manteno settlements are known by their large stone foundations and typical pottery. At Agua Blanca, researchers have found U-shaped stone chairs that have humans and animals carved into the bases. Some researchers believe these figures represent shamanistic significance. Others hypothesize the chairs may have been used to distinguish positions of power. Also large intact pottery urns have been found containing the bones of the deceased community members that have been dressed in finery and jewels.
About the Day Trip and Activities
We took a bus to the Puerto Lopez from Montanita, about a 45 minute bus ride. Once we arrived in Pto. Lopez, we found a taxi who took directly to the village for $5. Also, we had to pay $5 per person entrance fee to Machalilla Park . This fee includes our entrance to all attractions and a guided tour around through the township and land.
The local archaeological sites and museum are a highlight to the visit. This day trip can be comfortably planned either from Guayaquil, as long as there is an early start. The Museo de Agua Blanca: Arqueologia is open from 9 am to 5 pm everyday.
Once we arrived at the parish, we toured the museum, containing artifacts from the immediate area, spanning thousands of years. Afterwards we were guided through the township sites, seeing the location the intact urns were uncovered after a heavy rainfall, ruins of temples, houses and squares, the farm land with indigenous plant, trees and flowers and finally the thermal water lagoons. The famous lagoon of sulfur water in the Valley of the Rio Buena Vista is generated from volcanoes, and is believed to have healing properties for the skin. The valley is a birdwatchers’ paradise, a place to spot motmots and horneros among others.
The hike through the township took us an hour and half, allowing us to get a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals. About 52 families live in the community today and many of them are tourist guides.
Our hike ended up at the thermal baths, where we were offered a message with palo santo oil (which is related to Frankincense), a cup of healing mud to rub over our skin and a dip into the natural mineral pools.
The community also has camping areas and cabins with single, double or triple rooms for visitors who want to stay overnight. There is no hot water there, but there are restaurants for meals and you can also choose to eat with a local family for a more intimate experience of the community.
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September 1st, 2014
“Never mistake motion for action.”
Things have been in motion, but I have not taken much action. Rather I have not written about the motion taking place in my life, writing being the main action that has been quieted as of late.
The last personal post I wrote was back in May entitled “We were robbed.”.
(Yikes!!! That’s a long time.)
Although I admit, that experience took the wind from my sails, like a ferocious punch to my gut, but by the time I wrote the post, I was already healing from that trauma.
But, that was not the reason I haven’t written in so long.
Much of my focus for much of May, June into July had been on Project World School‘s details, marketing, planning, connections and such. That took a great deal of my attention (and Miro’s too). But that too, wasn’t the reason I hadn’t written in so long.
Then, for the month of June, Mr.TakeAChanceWithMe visited us from Ecuador. We had a truly incredible time together, getting to know each other better and enjoying each other’s company while sharing my favorite sites of Cusco. There is much I can share about that too, but I haven’t shared anything since I haven’t written since May.
But quite honestly, that wasn’t the reason I haven’t written in so long either.
Then for the first two weeks of July, Miro and I found ourselves hip deep in finalizing details, scheduling with locals, making final travel arrangements for the retreat which started mid-July.
But even those last minute details did not prevent me from writing.
From mid July to early August, the Project World School maiden retreat happened, not a single detail out of place, everything running like clock work, experiences flowing from day to day, proof of our teamwork (thank you Miro & Lorene!), acute attention to detail, applied creativity and a whole lot of vision and foresight.
We did spend a month experiencing a learning community with some incredible teenagers, being immersed deep in Peru’s rich Andean culture and ultimately living one of our dreams.
Even that is not the reason we have not written in so long.
Then the month of August, we were focused on closing down our house in Cusco, selling or giving away the possessions we managed to accumulate over the past 2 years. We had yard sales, online sales and gifting sessions. Eventually, we emptied out the house full of things, arranged the transfer of everything large including a washing machine, bunk beds, sofas to everything small including cooking utensils, plates, pots and pans.
We found a new home for our adopted kitty Sombra (and I shed too many tears saying my final farewells to her).
Miro and I said goodbye to the friends we made and released a few other friendships we realized were toxic. We emotionally closed our time in Cusco with a feeling of euphoria and finality.
But that was not the reason we haven’t written in so long either.
“Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.”
Was it writer’s block?
In all honestly, I haven’t been too busy to write.
From May to September, I’ve had time to watch movies, interact with friends on facebook, take long naps, play cards with Miro, sit in cafes, visit with friends, go on hikes, talk on skype, roam through the markets, and much more.
Why haven’t I written in so long?
I simply wasn’t inspired to do so.
Life continues to flow like a river, blockages happen, sometimes the force carries us away. But being a writer requires time, energy and effort to sit back and reflect. I wasn’t ready to be the observer of my own life, I was too busy being in the “now” with all of it, being connected to it and being connected to Miro.
I hope you, our readers, supporters and our community will forgive our absence. We value our community dearly. I’ve already started on many new posts about the retreat, our move and the future plans soon to follow.
We missed you all!
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July 22nd, 2014
I am lucky enough to live in magical land with deep roots to the past: Peru. Here, like in many other so-called “third world” countries, much of daily life involves traditional ways of subsistence that have long ago died out or become “hobbies” in the developed world. Hanging out with the locals in Peru means touching the distant past in the present moment, and also offers a glimpse of what a sustainable future for all may look like.
The Sacred Valley around the city of Cusco, where I live and run a World Schooling Project with my 15 year old son Miro, is home to dozens of indigenous villages that still produce their own food and clothing in ways that have remained relatively unchanged since before the arrival of Europeans on this soil. Although traditional Peruvian food is excellent – Peru actually just won the “Best Culinary Destination” award for the second year in a row – it is the abundance of intricately patterned alpaca and wool clothing and textiles that really wow you when you visit Cusco. Truly, if someone you know vacations here and does not bring you back a hand-made scarf or hat you should definitely take it personally.
After months of buying these beautiful items for ourselves and showing visiting friends and family members around the many markets that specialize in them, Miro and I were invited to visit one of the local places where weaving is a way of life. Chinchero, which sits several hundred meters higher up than Cusco on the chilly wind-swept plains above the Sacred Valley, is a Quechua speaking village of about 20,000 where the ancient art of textile making is central feature of daily life. In fact, many of the most elaborate and colorful woven items in the markets of Cusco are made in Chinchero, and the village’s work makes up a high percentage of the displays at Cusco’s Center of Traditional Textiles.
Miro and I spent the day with a Chinchero family, sitting on the ground and joining them in their daily ritual of weaving on traditional looms and spinning the natural raw wool into thread. Weaving in Chinchero is primarily women’s work, and the art of creating the complex patterns that typify Chinchero craftwork is passed down from mother to daughter in chains that stretch back into misty times without historical record. Sitting there with them, learning from them, mother and son, I felt honored to be included in something so basic and beautiful, yet so rare in the modern world.
Miro picked up the art faster than I did, and you can read more about our day here on our blog Raising Miro on the Road of Life, as weaving is done by men as well as women in Chinchero. In fact, the money made by these families off of their weaving (usually less than $10 a day) is what is helping to keep their traditional lifestyle alive. Our Chinchero family was mostly self-sufficient, besides raising the sheep which provide the wool, they also grow potatoes which provide sustenance and an additional source of income in the local food markets if need be.
Traditional family farming survives in Chinchero, which grows quinoa and barley as well as potatoes, because of the tourist market for handmade textiles. And the family farming allows Chinchero to devote their time to their craft – the two weave together to mutually support a lifestyle that is at once sustainable and deeply traditional. The prevalence of family farming in turn means that the Cusco area, and most of Peru for that matter, is awash with an incredibly diverse array of fresh produce, which is why the food is so good here. Its also dirt cheap, as you are buying directly from the farmer – seriously, check out what $20 US gets you in the Cusco Market.
I understand that Withlocals runs similar programs in Asia, including an opportunity to learn traditional seasonal farming with hill tribes in Thailand and the opportunity to live like a local in Nepal. These experiences are incredibly valuable, as in most cases there is much more than just a cultural exchange going on, you are actually experiencing what a time-honored and sustainable culture feels like – and it usually feels much happier than ours.
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