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It is inevitable that the work I do reveals my experiences, my stories. I came back to Peru for that, to transmit with my work a story that is dear to me. To truly recognize my country through Mater was one of the best ways.

The days with Santiago and Seferina Pilco changed a lot my way of thinking, my way of understanding many things, how everything works when you live at more than 3000 meters above sea level.

The day starts very early -more than usual for me- in Kajllaraccay, one of the communities belonging to Maras, and very close to the archaeological site of Moray. At 5am you can already see the light peeking through and with it the day begins for Santiago and Seferina. They start by washing their faces with very cold water that has been resting all night in the well where they gather it. She unties her braids to wash her long black hair and then combs it back into braids. She is always in a hurry, running here and there, feeding her animals while she cooks the quinoa quaker for breakfast. The three of us gather in the kitchen for breakfast.

After finishing the first cup of quaker, they serve me another one, and I drink it happily, although they insist on putting a lot of sugar in it. After breakfast, Santiago leaves with the oxen for the fields to work and Seferina and I get ready to go to the Wednesday Urubamba farmers’ market. I have never been before and I am very excited, I really like markets. We left a little before 7am to catch the truck and on the way we met the other ladies from the village who are also coming. Most of them are women, there are about 25 of us. They all load their sacks of products they are carrying to sell and put them on the truck, and then we all get on and sit on them. We are quite comfortable. The truck starts to move forward and sways from left to right, but I don’t worry, it’s an amazing experience!

Along the way more people get in and more packs are added and in the end we are all crammed together, like sardines. It’s funny to me. I stand up to look at the scenery, because it is very inspiring to see everything from the truck. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day in my life. I am in a truck that is swaying back and forth, full of people and their products, and everyone is speaking Quechua. I don’t understand anything but they all look at me and smile and we exchange a few words. It is a special moment, between the colors of the aguayos where they carry their personal bags and their babies, the conversations in Quechua, and the smell of rue and the other plants they carry. All that accompanies you on the route and makes it even more special. I think that after experiencing that I stopped feeling strange in my own country, I began to recognize it and I felt more from there than from any other place in the world.

The arrival at the market was a bit rowdy. Everyone gets off the truck with huge sacks full of chuño, oats, quinoa and beans. The women talk loudly. I understand almost no Quechua words but I understand that a sack of produce has been lost and they are looking for the person who took it. It is easy to get confused because the sacks all look alike and the strong character of these women stands out in this situation. It’s good to see how they stand up for themselves and support each other. Eventually it all gets sorted out and we can move on.

The farmers’ market is huge. Farmers come from all over Cusco. There is a great variety of colors, smells, textures, fruits and vegetables that I have not seen before, as well as natural remedies, some already prepared. Seferina has brought sacks of wheat and quinoa that we sold quickly with the help of her daughters, who live in Urubamba. With this result, we can afford to relax a bit drinking chicha (Frutillada; a red-colored chicha made with strawberries, which soon becomes my favorite drink) and do some shopping before meeting the truck that will take us back to Kajllaraccay.

The market, its colors, its warrior women, its giant glasses of chicha frutillada and all its mischief is a golden part of this trip-among many others-that inspire me and motivate me to design and smile with my heart every time I remember it. For what connects us, for the markets of the whole world, for the chaos, the sacks and the strong women.

Cindy Valdez
Mater team author

Diseñadora de Objetos/Ceramista 3D Cindy Valdez nació en Perú, donde estudió Artes y Diseño durante dos años. En 2012 fue aceptada en la Universidad de las Artes de Berlín donde comenzó a estudiar diseño de productos. En 2018, inicia sus estudios de maestría en la Escuela de Arte Weissensee de Berlín bajo la supervisión de la profesora de cerámica Barbara Schmidt. Como artista, ha participado en diferentes exposiciones en Europa y ha tenido la oportunidad de realizar diferentes pasantías y talleres en Europa y América del Sur. Actualmente vive en Berlín y está terminando su tesis de maestría en diseño de productos.

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