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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birthplace Of The Rainbow

En route back to Cusco on the Sacred Valley tour, we made our final stop for the day at Chinchero, a small Andean village comprising 2,000 inhabitants, adobe houses, a small church and some ruins. The purpose behind visiting Chinchero was not so much to see another set of Inca ruins, but more for the visitors to understand how the locals still engage the elements of nature and traditional processes in their way of life.

Smartly-dressed local woman strutting down adobe-lined streets

Welcome to Winay Away...

Basking in the last thinning sliver of sunshine

Creating a sudsy solution from the root of a plant, the locals demonstrated how they transform dirty brown wool into clean, white cotton balls

Spinning bales of poofy wool into a spool of strong yarn

The colouring process, using natural dyes

White yarn is dyed into various shades of yellow by dipping them in a flowery-mixture. The darker mustard-coloured ball was soaked for 30min in the dye, and the bright yellow ball, for 1 hour

Moss gives the yarn an orange hue. Soak for 30min for a lighter orange and 1 hour for a more sun-kissed shade

The white bits on the cactus produce a dark red colour when squished. Mixing the dye with lime juice produces a bright blood-red liquid - which the girls promptly applied to their lips as lipstick! "Will last up to 2000 kisses," the guide informed, "better than Revlon!"

A woolly rainbow

Next step - weaving the coloured strings into intricate designs

Final step - line 'em up for tourists to buy!

Natural foods, natural dyes

Hoping for some evening sales in front of the church and ruins

Named the Birthplace of the Rainbow by the Incas for its resort-like (well, at least to the Incas - I find it much too cold!) setting deep in the Andes, Chinchero made a nice, easy (no climbing required!) site to watch sunset and wrap up our tour of the Sacred Valley.


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