May 13, Raqchi
Raqchi is a small village situated a short distance outside of Cuzco.
Well known for its talented craftspeople and the beautiful handmade and intricately decorated pottery that is made here.
Tonight we are the house guests of the local village families, staying in their traditional houses (though modernised to include comfortable, but basic amenities).
We are warmly greeted by the villagers dressed in traditional clothing. Our group is divided amongst the families; Don & I, along with Gusta and Greta, are staying together with Papa Leonardis.
Papa Leonardis speaks only native Quechua and Spanish, but through hand gestures, our simple Spanish and lots of smiling, we managed to communicate (a little).
The first activity is lunch. Papa Leonardis walks us back to his place. It’s a simple structure; a three-sided building, with a courtyard in the middle.
Don and I are downstairs and Greta and Gusta upstairs. We share a bathroom, which is clean and basic (though we all opt out on trying the shower – not too sure it would be a very a hot one!).
We are ushered into a tiny (and I mean tiny) kitchen. The four of us squeeze around a table and Leonardis serves us a simple, but plentiful lunch: ceviche salad, quinoa soup, lamb with potatoes and maize (gigantic corn) and fresh fruit to finish.
In the afternoon we meet up with the group to explore the ruins. Raqchi was an important destination for the Incas with one of the largest temple ruins located here.
The Temple of Wiracocha stood over 20 meters high and was one of the tallest Inca structures built, consisting of the usual intricate Inca stonework and part adobe bricks.
There are also a number of surrounding quarters, most likely for high priests, and 152 round qullqas (storehouses) built in parallel lines, each measuring some 10 metres (33 ft) in diameter. The round shape makes these qullqas unique amongst other Inca structure.
These storehouses were used to hold grains, such as corn and quinoa, that would have been used for ceremonial purposes and general storage for the village.
Dinner tonight is corn soup, plus chicken served with maize and potato. After dinner, Papa Leonardis has a surprise. He brings out a collection of traditional outfits for each of us. The women don skirts, jackets and hats; Don a poncho and a chullos (woolen beanie).
We all gather in the courtyard of one of the larger houses and participate in a ceremony to give thanks to the local spirits. The evening culminates with singing and everyone up dancing.
Overall, it’s a humbling experience to spend a night with the local people of Raqchi. It’s a real insight into Peruvian customs and culture, along with the day to day lives these people lead.
It’s easy to describe the experience as charmingly rustic, but I’m not sure that would be my description if it was my day to day reality.