As you know, our passion is to assist in providing a sustainable income for artisans and their families as well as a better education for their children. We recently had the opportunity of traveling to a village about 45 minute drive on very rough dirt road outside Cusco. In this village is a group of artisans with whom we work. While there, we were able to work with them on their jewelry and scarves, build a greenhouse for them, and had the opportunity to visit their small classrooms where they provide elementary education for their Inca children.
We work with the mostly women artisans to design and produce high quality jewelry and textile products that we sell through our network of partners with the income providing the artisan’s with a steady income. Usually, their traditional income is earned during the 3 months of the rainy season where the women and the children work in the fields planting and harvesting the corn, potatoes, and vegetables. By working with Exotic World Gifts, we are able to provide them an additional income through their arts. Together, we can provide a year round sustainable income to these gentle, beautiful, and hard working people.
Cusco, Peru is about an hour’s flight from Lima (at 11,300 ft elevation) and was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire. The numerous Inca structures were plundered and destroyed by the Spanish in 1533. Churches were built above the foundations of the Inca temples and are adorned with silver instead of gold. One of the churches had numerous mirrors – quite unusual. Couldn’t help but feel a bit sad about the devastation that Spanish colonization had on the culture and economy of the region.
The central city plaza is spacious with a perimeter of shops, restaurants, and massage parlors. The surrounding cobble stone streets are narrow and often clogged with traffic. Further away from the plaza, the numerous incomplete buildings are evidence of a building boom gone bust. Well intended street repairs remain unfinished and actually seem to have made things worse with large potholes, blocked streets, and chaotic traffic patterns.
The people are friendly and few know English. Irons bars protect just about every window that is less than 12 feet from the ground. 10 to 12 foot walls protect many larger residences.
After completing the greenhouse, irrigation and product development with the community of artisans, we visited Machu Picchu. The ascending 20 minute bus ride through numerous switchbacks ends and the steep trails lead to numerous paths through the extraordinary ruins of Machu Picchu. Pictures and video can’t capture the grandness of this experience. One of the seven wonders of the new world.