Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Town Meeting, Chinchero

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  After the Pisac market we were bound for Chinchero. Our guidebook praised the authenticity of Chinchero's market. When Jane, wondering if we really wanted to spend more time in a market, asked the reason to go to Chinchero, Ramiro answered immediately, "the land," but the way he said it made clear he meant more than the landscape. Chinchero lies in a fertile plateau well above the Urubamba, and it felt generations away. 

By the time we got there, the market had pretty much broken up, and a town meeting was underway in the square in front of the 17th century church. We kept our distance, and I have no idea what they were deliberating. The town is built upon the walls and terraces of an Inca palace and has given little ground to 20th century conveniences. We walked along cobbled streets of mud houses  that periodically opened out to views over the hills and terraces, where the people raise livestock and grow potatoes, grains, and barley.  From the land they get food, clothing and shelter. For anything else there are the markets, and market day is a time of celebration. 

Once again I marveled at the clarity and precision with which water was led through the village infrastructure. The Inca ruins here are extensive but they have been incorporated into the existing town and, despite little material wealth in the town, my impression was of permanence and well-being. This is a place of deep roots.

Chinchero means, "rainbow," in Quechua, and I imagined the storms that blew through during the rainy season, how people living and working on the plains below the village must often have seen it over a rainbow.

SLIDE SHOW: First climb up through the terraces, fortifications and ceremonial towers over Pisac, then catch the excitement of the town on market day before finally heading into the hills and the idyllic village of Chinchero where the town meeting is underway.

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