Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Peru, It All Seems to be About Hats

When traveling through the Andes in Peru, there is so much to see.  Radiant green landscapes with soaring mountains and sprawling valleys.  Snowy peaks in the distance.  Incan ruins clinging to the mountains above.  Fuzzy llamas and alpaca grazing on the high altitude slopes.  Enormous, ornately decorated cathedrals showing the Spaniards wealth and power...  But for me, a person who travels to see people and culture, my eyes were mostly focused on the hats.  Tops hats, bowler hats, straw hats, woven hats, leather hats, fabric hats, flowered hats...  Round tops, flat tops, soft tops, ruffled tops...  Brown, black, red, white, tan or brightly colored...  It never ended.  It was a feast for my eyes.

Wearing traditional dress is still the norm for large parts of this mountainous region where the Quechua people have been able to retain their cultural traditions.  This means most people are sporting bright colored textiles: men in ponchos intricately designed with customary patterns, women in woven or embroidered skirts that they wear sometimes up to 15 layers deep to create the full look with multi hued ruffles showing underneath. The vibrancy doesn't end there though.  Goods from the market are packed up in vivid cloths and tied to ones back along with babies and everything else.  Then add the piles of fruits and vegetables in all shapes and sizes.... Color, color, color! Viva Peru!

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