As part of our Intrepid tour package, we were transported high into the hills (3800m) not only to acclimatise in preparation for the Inca Trail but to meet a tribal community living a traditional agrarian lifestyle.
Greeted by four women, a boy, and the male head of the community, all in traditional dress, we were immediately impressed with friendly faces and genuine hospitality as they handed us fresh flowers and covered us in confetti.
The head of the community gave us a heartfelt welcome speech in the native Quechua language (the language spoken long before the introduction of Spanish), which was translated into English by our Intrepid guide.
A demonstration of traditional weaving and the natural methods of dying the wool followed, with almost magical displays of colour creation in a small bowl using plants, minerals and a type of small beetle for the colour red.
Later we were introduced to Mother Earth, and although the leader of the community was proud to announce his catholic faith and morals, when it came to farming the land it was the traditional Quechua spiritual connection with the Earth that remained steadfastly prominent. No-one prayed to a catholic saint or God for matters of the land; instead Mother Earth was adorned with ceremonial food and drink in a sacrificial ritual.
We toured their land and met some of the workers, who took a rest by drinking the same beer sacrificed to Mother Earth, and chewed coca leaves. We the tourists, did our bit by pulling some weeds and harvesting potatoes.
To end our time with the community, we feasted on a traditional meal of guinea pig and potatoes and bought a couple of souvenirs hand woven by the local women.