Articles by Camden

What's polite in Peru?

“Pucha, Cam, estás gordita!”

It wasn’t really news that I’d put on a little weight in my month in Australia. It was a month of good cheese – very good, rich, fattening cheese, blue and brie and goats’, the kind I’d missed terribly in Peru. A month of wine and all those Aussie beers I love so much. Dinners out, desserts, birthday cake, Tim Tams. And a distinct lack of the exercise I get in Cusco simply by walking across town at 3,300 metres above sea level.

Image: vvaiting via flickr

Image: vvaiting via flickr

But I certainly didn’t need it pointed out so bluntly. “Geez, Cam, you’re a little fat!” And I really, really didn’t need it pointed out over, and over, and over again, until I finally told the boys that in Australia you don’t dare comment on a woman’s weight, and that I wasn’t seeing the funny.

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October 4, 2010 12 comments

Dance and Drums at Qoyllur Rit'i, Peru

The ukukus in our party wore long, dark, shaggy costumes; black knitted masks pushed back on their heads. Every once in a while they would let out a long wail on a horn, a few sharp blasts on a whistle, or twist their whips in their hands. But otherwise they were like us – clad in thermals, hiking boots peeking out beneath costumes, talking about partners and kids back home.

A remote Andean valleyUntil we had arrived at the yearly religious festival of Qoyllur Rit’i, until we had made the 8 km pilgrimage to this remote Andean valley at 4,700 metres, my partner Gabriel had not even known that his friend John was one of the ukukus. And this is what struck me most about this celebration – its sheer earthiness and humanity. The ukukus, representing half-men half-bears, wield a considerable amount of power and responsibility but unlike the untouchable, elitist tinge of the Catholicism I grew up with, these dancers are men of their communities, jokers, tricksters, men you share a beer with, men who aren’t defined by the role they play here.

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June 17, 2010 1 comment