This is the year for polishing my spanish, traveling the world, and eating and discovering new and exciting foods. Just since May 1, 2019 my husband and I have surfed the pacific in the waters of Costa Rica, transversed the Andes mountains by plane, train, and foot in Peru, and paddled boarded the rivers of my great state of Virginia. In every journey, I strive to discover new foods, discover how other cultures eat healthy, and find holistic approaches to health. By far my favorite journey this season has been to Peru.
For a decade, I have dreamed of seeing the pacific ocean from their beaches and trekking along the foothills of this south american country. Never did I imagine that the Peruvian people were the first to grow quinoa. Quinoa, the new superfood of western hemisphere. They’ve been eating it for centuries. In Peru we sipped on quinoa soup daily, ate quinoa plain, quinoa dressed up, and quinoa dressed down, and even quinoa for breakfast. I can now recognize quinoa growing in a field. Who knew? I do plan to learn and share quinoa soup recipes this fall when us northern hemisphere people groups love to eat soup.
The culture that eats guinea pigs grilled on a skewer for special occasions, did indeed have a lot to teach me about health and food as medicine. Many days in the Andes are invested in maintaining a diet to sustain the crazy altitudes they most endure. (Cusco sits at 12,000 feet, the capital of the Incan civilization). Daily they load up on carbs from fresh made breads, bananas, papaya, fresh squeezed orange juice, and of course Coca Tea (Mate de Coca). I had heard rumors about this tea and pondered whether I would partake in this tradition. However, when the first think I saw on our arrival in Cusco was a table with a bowl of leaves and a sign encouraging travelers to take a few leaves to chew on, I couldn’t resist. I spent the next four days sipping and chewing on these leaves for their medicinal properties to help with altitude side effects. The indigenous people here are smart. No Diamox for me, thank you.
The Peruvians are experts on how to use nature for its medicinal properties. Pachamama, the quechuan word for mother earth, is embraced in every fashion in this society. From the continuous hospitable offerings of tea of endless varieties, to the quechan villagers bringing fresh ruda herbs to help heal my daughter from her intestinal maladies, to the traditions of using the earth and animals to color and shelter their bodies from the cold. They are the masters and I feel privileged to have been welcomed, cared for, and educated by this people group. More to come soon about the village ladies in the Sacred Valley. We had the pleasure of helping to make a few mud bricks to place in their community center where they plan to craft natural goods to sell for fair trade prices.