Peru’09- Trading Places


By Randall Richards

Willoc Woman with Child

Willoc woman with child

Before I knew it I had a baby on my back. We were being shown how the Peruvian weaving process works from start to finish. We were in the town of Willoc for the afternoon, above Ollantaytambo, the gateway to Machu Picchu. We were being shown how the wool is shorn, carded, and spun, then dyed and weaved on a back-strap loom. The women showing us were wonderful and very gracious. I’d been there a number of times before taking a few MSI participants up to the mountain village, known for its weavings.

Gringo guide with child

Gringo guide with child

I have always been curious how the woman use the mantas, or clothes to carry everything from children to corn. I had been shown the day before how to fold and tie the knot but still was asking a woman who carried a child how it was done so the baby didn’t fall out.  Her idea was to show me by handing over the the whole lot, baby and manta to me.  As she helped me tie the knot, I thought, “this knot is as important as any climbing knot I’ve tied over the years. It better be good”  The young one hung out with me for about fifteen minutes when he decided he’d had enough and wanted his mom again.  I still need to figure out exactly how the folds in the material go, so the baby doesn’t fall out. I’ve got the knot down though!

I highly reccomend losing your stroller for this manta. We sell them at our fair-trade webpage, and I can even post some directions on how you too can carry everything from a child, to corn or even your groceries from Trader Joe’s, Hannaford’s, New World.

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