After a sleepless night of upcoming fever (Peruvian flue), I started off the day without my morning smile… Bad timing since Griet and me were about to head towards the local alpaca farmers high in the Andes, one of the major high lights of this trip. Guess I was kind off weak, since Griet had energy for entire army! Long Live Griet! Pain or no pain, off I went!
It was about a 3h drive to our ‘end stop’, namely the Alpaca family where we were going to cook diner, spend the night in one of their little huts and accompany them with the herding activity very early in the morning. Along the way we stopped regularly to have a little snack, enjoy the view, meet and talk to locals, …
First stop: lunch! Where Canada is famous for its delicious salmon, Peru is famous for its trout or in Spanish ‘trucha’. For the Flemish speaking people, trout = ‘forel’. As fresh as can be I indulged on fried trout, potatoes, manioc and a fresh salad of red onion, lime and coriander (you should try this! Delish!). Poor Griet, who’s a strict vegetarian, had a bowl of rice, hihi. Since we were going to spend the night with a local family, we headed towards the local market to buy (some) food that we could give as a thank you for their time and hospitality. That was…two big bags full of bread, 10kg of rice, 5 kg of sugar, 2kg of apples, 20 bananas and the ingredients for our evening meal, namely ‘pasta Napolitano con atùn’.
Let me sketch you a day in the life of a family of alpaca shepherds. First of all, they live in very little and very basic huts, with no more than a little place where they cook on wood and a few blankets they put on the ground as a matrass to sleep on. All-in total it’s about 5m2.
They get up at 3AM in the morning to cook their most important meal of the day, namely breakfast. Usually a plain soup and some corn, and if they are lucky some alpaca meat, since vegetables and fruit are nowhere to find at these altitudes. At 4AM they head into the mountains with their alpaca’s looking for pastures. They follow their animals throughout the day and spin alpaca yarn in the meantime. In the late afternoon they head back to their huts together with the alpaca’s. Around 5PM they have a quick evening meal before they go to bed at 6PMVery hard work for… very little pay. They sell their rough alpaca yarn at the market to local intermediaries who on their turn sell the yarn to the big Alpaca players such as Michell, where I buy my 100% baby alpaca yarn for LN|Beanies & LN|Andes. Michel buys the rough alpaca yarn from the intermediaries and spin and colour the rough material themselves. They sell the finished yarn to enterprises such as me, LN| at a high price. You can say that they sell the yarn to me at least 10 times as high in comparison with the selling price of the alpaca farmers.That’s the reason why I, and Solid International, would like to have our very own Alpaca farm. In that way we can give the Alpaca farmers a decent income, and do our part to help them out of poverty. Since it takes quite some time testing, organising, learning etc… this won’t be for next year… In the meantime we provide employment to some of the women. A couple of them will start knitting the LN|Andes collection at DIA giving them the opportunity to earn an honest wage. One day the entire chain behind LN|Andes will be human pur sang.One step at a time…Since during the day I didn’t started to feel any better I (wisely) took the decision not to spend the night at the alpaca famers since I probably would have had another sleepless night and therefore would have most definitely turned sick. There is no time for that! Still feel rather bad about disappointing Griet, since she was on fire and would have spent the week there if she could! Again, weak versus strong ;-)! Next year Griet… Promised!
We arrived at the alpaca farmer’s family around 7PM, ready to cook our most fantastic ‘no Belgian meal at all’ dinner. As mentioned earlier, the farmers have dinner already at 5PM and normally go the bed at 6PM, so we were running a bit late! A very tasteful pasta Napolitano con atùn later we headed back home. After a quick shower, since I felt and smelled like a fireplace, I went straight to bed and… woke up feeling better again.Today Griet and me took it easy. We pretty much just sat down, had jugos and ice cream, strolled around and… worked on this amazing blog post!
Hope you enjoyed it!
Have a kick-ass start of the week,