In the Sacred Valley of Peru, Ccaccaccollo village’s weaving market is perched on an emerald-green Andean mountainside, looking out across Peru’s Sacred Valley.
“Not long ago this was a sad place. We lost our way of life,” Francisca Qquerar Mayta, a spokesperson for the women. Sacred Inca traditions, which survived the mid-16th century Spanish conquest, disappeared from Ccaccaccollo in the 1990s after a tourism boom at Machu Picchu caused an economic imbalance in the Sacred Valley.
Most of the women left the market as young girls, pedalling trinkets in Cusco and living “with no electricity, water, very little food. In rooms no bigger than that,” says Francisca, pointing to a stable housing two tethered alpacas.
Spotting the inequity, in 2005 Planeterra – the non-profit foundation of the Canada-based travel company G Adventures – launched the Women’s Weaving Co-op in Ccaccaccollo.
Local women relearned weaving techniques and, with the guidance of the foundation’s experts, started selling handmade alpaca clothing.