Dyed in the Wool
When we got off the bus in Chinchero, we hardly saw anyone at all, much less other travelers. We'd come on a weekday, hoping that we might be able to find a market in some shape or form. On the main plaza, sellers' plots were clearly laid out, but all covered in blue tarps - and not a soul was around. We wandered the streets, stopped into the church (a true spectacle, covered in paintings) and wandered some more. And then a sign caught my eye: "Textile center, 100 meters." We followed the arrow and came to a doorway, where a woman invited us in. It seemed we had arrived at lunch time - a group women and children were gathered in a courtyard enjoying some fragrant chicken soup. The woman who invited us in led us further on, and we came to another courtyard, where about 20 women were engaged in everything from preparing looms to dyeing wool to weaving. It was enough to make any textile fanatic's heart skip a beat. We were shown all parts of the process and eventually came away with beautiful manta. It was not one of the gorgeous indigo showpieces, but one that had been set aside, bound up to carry spindles and loose yarn - a perfect example of how these extraordinary textiles are still a functional part of everyday life.
By Gina Czupka