Today we went to into San Miguel. In the town, the president and other representatives took us on a walking tour of their community. I have to say, it was a complete hiking experience, especially because of the altitude (and I don’t like to exercise!). We walked up the hill for about 45 minutes and the past president of the community told us the story of Mr. Borja who, years ago, killed more than 57 community members in one day in order to take possession of their land. It is said that he drew a cross in the land and killed all the people that were not willing to sell or give up their land. But the ancestors of San Miguel fought very courageously and won back their land.
On the tour, the community members mentioned that their tatas and mamas collected these stories in order to make their own history. The people of San Miguel want their sons and daughters to have pride for their land, traditions, and ancestors and want them to remember how their ancestors fought for their land and their way of life. In order to preserve this rich history, they want their children to work the land and not migrate to others cities.
Our walk continued to a sacred and mystical place. There the ancestors of the San Miguel people prayed to their INTIS. They asked for blessings over their crops and families, checked the weather, or just communed with The God Sun. The sky at this point of the tour was blue and the air was very pure…it was a special moment.
I respect the traditions and cultural heritage of the towns and populations. Hearing the story of the magic place in San Miguel brought me closer to my own traditions and beliefs as a Peruvian. One thing we have in common in all the countries bordering or crossing the Andes is the belief of the Inti, or The God Sun. It is so important to have a cause in life and to fight for your beliefs. These role models of dedication and work that we found in this community were unique. They are opening the future for their kids and they want them to be better by prioritizing education. Community members work hard in the minga to provide their children an education. Right now they’ve included a secondary school in the School of San Miguel and are constructing a second floor to offer technical degrees to graduating seniors.
We felt so motivated after all we saw, we decided to roll up our pants and start working alongside the workmen on the school. It was a very busy afternoon! We started with the rebar squares for the columns. It's a process that looked so easy when Carlos, the foreman, was doing it. Ultimately, it was very difficult, and a level of technique was required. Trust me, it was not easy! After that we painted some tiles for the roof and the feeling was the same—looked easy, but it was not. The hardest moment in the afternoon was when we carried bags of rocks and construction debris to the river. The idea is to prevent the river from changing its path by routing it alongside their walking path.
The rest of the day was as impressive as the morning. We visited the girls club at the school and we were able to talk with the girls in the club. They were weaving beautiful sintas and fatas and taught us how to weave. The experience was the same—something that looked pretty easy and relaxing instead demanded a great deal of technique and concentration! Lucia, a girl of 14-years-old, was the most talkative in the class. She wants to be an engineer and has started her own guinea pig business. It is awesome the things that these girls can do with a little instruction and lots of dedication.
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