As part of my adventure in Peru I went on a day trip through the Sacred Valley on my way to Ollantaytambo and the start of the Lares Trek. We stopped in a few interesting places like this -- the women's weaving co-op in Ccaccaccollo -- a project sponsored by Planettera and G Adventures. Experiences like this are why I like travelling with a more conscientious company like G, they put tourism money back into these small communities that usually get bypassed by the vast number of tourists this part of Peru sees. In addition to the weaving co-op we also stopped for lunch at the Parwa Sacred Valley Community Restaurant which was fantastic.
I was very interested in this co-op and seeing some traditional craftswomen at work and learning about their culture and concerns. It's a great chance to talk with people outside more scripted tourist oriented conditions. Not only are they very proud but are incredibly enthusiastic to talk to people from all over the world and love the idea people are there to meet them and learn about them. These are the experiences that provide some of my best memories while travelling.
The women in the photo were showing us how they weaved using the traditional hand method, far more labour, time and skill intensive than using looms. What struck me were the colours, such incredibly vibrant reds and blues. Even on a cloudy day they radiated, made even more amazing by the fact that all the dyes they use are completely natural. Not a single synthetic chemical in sight. From plants, flowers and even insect shells these incredible dyes are extracted. Even the soap they use to clean the hair and wool is natural.
I really didn't plan on spending any money but once I got my hands on the Alpaca scarves and gloves I couldn't resist. What amazed me of course were the prices. What would have cost me hundred of dollars here at home cost a fraction of that at the source. Best of all, all the money from sales is pooled amongst the families and goes back into village initiatives.
The Ccaccaccollo weaving co-op was a wonderful educational experience with a beautiful handcrafted scarf to take home with me. I'll remember it fondly when I'm wrapped up during our cold, wet winters.