in praise of pachamama

pachamama is the quechua nme for “mother earth”. it’s a concept you hear a lot about in these parts. there are tributes and offerings in many forms. mother earth commands the utmost respect around here. and much of that is because so many of these people owe their entire existence to her benevolence. showing pachamama thanks is not something that’s taken lightly.

we just visited some of the island communities of lake titicaca – communities which have been around since pre-inca times. and they, more so than most, rely on the generosity of the earth for their most basic needs. for example the uros people live on floating islands within the lake – islands made entirely from reeds. they live on reeds, build shelter with reeds, cook with reeds, and eat reeds. they’ve lived like this for ages, and their environment is one of continual renewal. the people of amantani island practice agriculture in much the same way they have for hundreds of years. they eat what they farm, which generally means potatoes and grains for breakfast, lunch and dinner. what they don’t eat, they trade (for fresh produce or fish) and what they support (sheep) is used for clothing.

these people *make* things. they grow and harvest, they build and maintain, they weave and wear, they cultivate and care. they have an intimate experience of where their meals come from, and they never take from granted that they will continue to be able to provide. and so they thank pachamama often, from the heart. they honour and revere her in ways big and small.

in our everyday “modern” lives, almost everything we consume is bought, with little to no concept of origen. we buy houses, we buy bread, we buy soup. we don’t think very much about where it came from or how it got here. we’re so intent on the easiest, fastest thing, we never make the connection. and we are connected. we are just as dependent on pachamama as any traditional tribe. we simply fail (or refuse) to see it. it takes too long to think about. we’re so disconnected from what sustains us that we can barely be bothered to cook most days.

spending time with the communities of the lake is a humbling experience. to eat their food and dance their dances reminds us of the tie, the connection. what we’ve lost or ignored for far too long in favour of computer games and microwaves.

pachamama provides. and it’s not so much to stop for a few minutes to give thanks.

more photos of our days and nights on the lake here

One Response to “in praise of pachamama”

  1. kim
    September 14th, 2006 06:35

    brilliant photos! well done. so looking forward to catching up when you are back!

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