After a busy week in Lima, making new friends from our Art of Living courses, and taking Spanish lessons at Peruwayna, the team said a bittersweet goodbye to the seaside city and prepared for a change in scenery. A 20-hour bus ride and some winding, mountain roads later, we found ourselves in the enchanting city of Cusco.
Because we were only in Cusco for the night we took the city by storm, eating delicious food and bargaining at the colorful markets. We even made a fruit salad unlike any of us had ever seen before in order to better learn the country’s native fruits! After a night at Apu Wasi, a hostel that offered us all the cafe and maté our harts could ever desire, we made our way to the Maska Region where we’d begin our first community service project with the Ccapa Family.
We traveled to Maska with only our day packs, prepared to face the next 6 days with only the bare essentials. We hiked to what seemed to be the top of Cusco, enjoyed the view and then caught a local bus that took us to the small town of Pisac. We took cabs higher up into the mountains in order to reach the Ccapa family farm. We were greeted enthusiastically by the Ccapa brothers, Dario and Arcadio, who immediately took us into what they called their ¨meeting room”, which was a beautiful field with yellow flowers and numerous plants and puppies all surrounded by the captivating Andes Mountains. This was the first of many educational sessions with the Ccapa Brothers. They told us all about their vision for their farm and how the sustainable and organic way of their Incan ancestors is their goal.
We learned about the Ccapa family’s deep appreciation and respect for the Earth. On an evening hike through the Incan archeological ruins, we learned even more about the Incan’s respect for the land. Dario explained to us the reaons for the Incans settling in the Andes mountains, which all had to do with the benefits of the land. The stone foundation proved trustworthy through earthquakes, there were only 2 seasons (wet and dry), and the land yielded food for all the people.
Also a mjaor part of the Ccapa family’s Incan ancestry is the use of traditional medicine. The Ccapa family continues this practice and their land hosts a variety of plants and herbs which they put to medicinal use. One of the plants harvested by the Ccapa brothers is called Muna. We picked the Muna plant, we drank it in our maté, we distilled it into oil, and often rubbed it in our hands and inhaled it through our nose for help with the altitude.
As well as learning about the traditional medicines and helping with its preservation on the land, we also worked making adobe bricks. Adobe is the material which the Ccapa family uses for all the building on their land, as it’s entirely composed of the earth. We mixed the adobe, cleared it of rocks, stomped on it (in order to create the right consistency), and constructed it into bricks. These bricks will be used for the buildings that will someday host a distillery and a medical dispensary on the Ccapa’s land. Such a place will serve as a venue for the Ccapa family to display the sustainable and restorative ways of their ancestors.
In only 6 days, our Peru Mind & Body team learned and experienced so much thanks to the Ccapa family. Whether it was observing the sacrifice of cuy (guinea pig), which we ate for lunch, taking a sunrise hike up the mountain to the mouth of a river where unpolluted water flows, or picking up trash on the hillsides, the OG team got to be a part of the inspiring reverance that the Ccapa family has for their land and for life.
On our last night on the farm, we had the honor of taking part in a traditional Incan ceremony. We made wishes, we purged evil energy, we thanked the earth, and we danced to music around a fire and under the bright moon and stars. The Ccapa family had been insisting all week that we were like family to them, and after a week as special as the one we spent at the farm, there was an undeniably genuine bond formed between the Ccapa family and the our Mind & Body team.
As sad as the team was to say goodbye, we have so much excitement for the vision and dream of the Ccapa family and we are thrilled to have been a part of it. While the dream is a BIG one, we saw them implementing their ideas into action every single day we were with the Ccapa family. While their efforts are slow and laborious, they are sure and steady, just like the ways of their ancestors.