Allin Kawsay: Travels in Peru

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Pago a la Tierra Festivities

Corca. And more potatoes.

It’s 6 a.m., barely daylight, and I’m walking hurriedly to meet classmates at the Mega grocery store. Mango juice in gloved hand, I’m barely awake. We’re on our way to Corca, a small pueblo in Peru, for an oral examination. I’m not a fan of traveling by bus in the Andes due to a newly realized fear of falling off a cliff, but surprisingly, the trip wasn’t bad. Arrival time? 7:30 a.m.

So here I am, standing in a field collecting piles of dirt for a wathiya. I’ll post pictures later, but in essence, a wathiya is nature’s stove for cooking potatoes. One just collects piles of dirt and builds a small arch in the dirt resembling a hut, and fills the inside with potatoes. Then, you just add tinder and catch on fire. 30 minutes later, you have cooked potatoes covered in dirt and ash! Buen provecho!

While the potatoes were cooking, we sat down in the field on sheepskin and interviewed our designated Quechua speakers for the examination.  Our instructor listened in on our conversations, making sure to make us feel quite awkward during the process.

I did get to talk to some cute kids and play with puppies, so it wasn’t a total disaster. After the potatoes were done, we sat around the wathiya, peeling the dirt and skin off the potatoes. Add a little bit of cheese and ahi and it was a pretty good breakfast!

And then we left. And that was our trip to Corca. Uneventful? Somewhat. But I got a few pictures, which I’ll post soon enough.

Pago A La Tierra

Qhanunchay Pago A La Tierra man Koricanchapi riryayku. Sinchirunakunata waturanku qhawaranku ima. Runakunan k’uychi p’achata hina churakuranku.

Hanaq pataqmi charangokunan pululukunan iman tukaqkunan tukaranku. Chaymanta kinraypi ofrecimientota Pachamamapaqmi ukhu allp’api p’amparanku.

Hanpiqwan bendicionpazmi watukurani. Pa
napi iskaytayta fuentepi kanku. Noqa sinchi fotokunata orqorani. Chaymanta quinoaaqhata restaurantpi ukyarayku.

If I have to eat one more freakin’ potato….

Luckily, I can have quinoa brulee instead! Here is the recipe some of you have requested:


1/2 cup of white quinoa

1/2 cup of black quinoa

1/2 cup of red quinoa

4 cups of cream (heavy cream is recommended)

4 eggyolks

1 egg

1/2 cup and 4 tbsp of brown sugar

1 tbsp. of vanilla

2 tbsp. of orange liqueur

1/2 tsp. of nutmeg

a dash of cinnamon


1) Roast quinoa in a pot over high heat for three minutes. Pour 4 cups of water and cream into pot - cook, stirring while boiling.

2) Reduce heat and simmer quinoa for 30-40 minutes (leave a layer of cream 1/2 in high on the quinoa)

3) Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

4) In a separate bowl, beat/whisk egg, yolks, and 1/2 cup of sugar.

5) Add to the quinoa. Pour in vanilla, liqueur, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix well.

6) Pour into creme brulee pans and bake in a waterbath at 320 F for 30-45 minutes.

7) Sprinkle remaining sugar on top and burn with a kitchen torch.

(I also have a quinoa-mango brulee recipe!)

Two Week Countdown

Two Weeks Left!

Sorry I haven’t blogged lately, so here’s to making up for lost time:

The Peruvian Independence Day festivities were this weekend, so there was plenty to keep us busy on the long weekend.


Hellloooo Olympics! Being in a foreign country for so long makes you oddly patriotic (which is saying something for me). So, we all got together at Emily, Lila, and Charlie’s place to watch the opening ceremony. THANKFULLY, the Olympic Committee decided to include the Harry Potter series in the ceremony – even if they did rudely ignore the Spice Girls. (And wtf – where was Elton!?!?)

We also watched the entire procession of athletes from around the world – Really, North Korea? You can’t bring yourselves to participate in international politics, but send teams to compete in the Olympics? I mean – it’s awesome but we see what you priorities are. I was really missing my MUN friends at this time….SO many funny political witticisms. And is it even fair that we send our best NBA players to the Olympics? I mean – no one else stands a chance right?


Saturday was filled with studying the plethora of suffixes that make up the Quechua language and going shopping with Katicha. I had my first pickpocket experience at Baratío – and my stolen phone was miraculously returned to me! Thank you contraband market gods.

I also bought a really warm blanket – I thought about giving it as a gift but that’s not going to happen.

After a delicious apple crumble from the Real McCoy, we headed home to rest up for our day trip to Písac.


Today was filled with markets, mountains, and mass. 6 of us decided to spend the day at Písac  - a small town about an hour outside of Cusco and home to the Písac ruins and a fantastic artisan market.  Of course, I panicked during the drive there (my anxiety is just not going to adjust to these roads) but we made it safely. We spent most of the morning at the market, but found a nice little mass in Quechua which we visited for a while.

After we had enough of shopping, we thought we’d check out the Písac ruins – Inca Písac, consisting of four main ruins at the top of the mountain. The most notable ruins are the Temple of the Sun and the many agricultural terraces on the steep mountainside. In other words, pretty freaking sweet.

Unfortunately, it was 70 soles per person to get in. Unwilling to pay, we made other plans. Apparently, there had been talk about sneaking our way in the archaeological site. Of course – we turned to wi-fi and looked it up on google. With no luck, Charlie started asking random vendors at the market until we had a pretty good idea how to do it.

We followed a small drainage system that led us to the other side of the mountain, requiring some balance at times. An older man offered to lead us the rest of the way to the secret “get-to-Písac-for-free” path for 30 soles. We left the drainage system trail and headed up the mountain. And when I say “up”, I mean vertical slope, nothing to hold on to if you fall, exhausting trek up the Andes. We stopped every 5-10 minutes to catch our breath and take a break from the wretched wind that nearly pushed us off the cliff.

But when we got to that summit – wow. The illegal trek up the mountain was worth it. Of course the ruins were spectacular (seeing the way the Incas built with stone will never get old) but the view of the Andes itself can take your breath away. And the sun setting slowly made the lighting perfect.

To top off the emotional relief of making it to Pisac without dying/getting arrested, we got to visit a baby goat that was following two little girls around the ruins. Cutest. Thing. Ever. Just check out the pictures.

And let me just mention the masonry of the ruins. Ancient Aliens comes to mind (Tabitha Woodruff and Annie Yamson will understand this). And the way the terraces are structured and stone stairways built into the side of the mountain are really remarkable, albeit difficult to navigate for a gringa.

To sum it up, it was well worth the trip. Pictures to come soon!

Pregunta: “Que tipo de crema es bueno por su piel?”
Respuesta: “Su propia orina”

ay yi yi.

Mid-Trip Update

After a near-death trip to Paucartambo (slightly exaggerating - see previous post), I made it out with nothing but a cold. Which happens to suck when you’re at altitude. The dryness of the air and freezing temperatures at night make a head cold quite miserable.

Alas, we’ve reached the halfway point of the program. Which means I have a ton of work to do in the next four weeks!! Thus far, I have acquired some great recipes to try out back home (egg tortillas, ponche de habas, quinoa brulee) but have yet to do a single interview for my fieldwork. And I have a presentation to prepare regarding my current research, due in two weeks. Oh, and learn the million suffixes of the Quechua language. But the city is great and treating me well, so I cannot complain.

I’m booking my trip to Machu Picchu tomorrow (so excited!) and am hoping to start my interviews this weekend. Sorry it’s such a short update, but there is too much work to be done, and too little time.

Missing everyone back home!!