Being a Child Is Risky in Peru

Guillermo Soncco and his wife, Marcosa and two of their children (Roxanna, age 9 – one of our Q’ero students in San Sebastian) and their 4 month old baby, Miku, came with Seth and I to the Qolluyrit’ti festival in Sinakara in late May, 2013.

Marcosa had lost a baby in 2012 – the baby was stillborn. It took three weeks to expel the fetus, with the process nearly killing her in the process. In truth, I didn’t even realize until we were in Mawayani that the precious baby, Miku was with us. He was safely, and expertly tucked away in the manta on Marcosa’s back – he came out for lunch! Roxanna, his sister was her normal cheerful self – bustling about – energetically here, there and everywhere with her gorgeous smile, exhibiting the joyful freedom long lost to children in the United States.

Excitement was in the air. We were on our way to the Festival. It took a few hours to coordinate pack horses and firewood and all of our belongings, and we headed out around 3pm. We arrived in the Sinakara Valley after the eight kilometer trek just after dark, and set up our tents for the four day stay.

The next day I heard Miku cough for the first time. While the rest of us were in full celebration mode, enjoying the Qollorit’ti festivities, Marcosa stayed at the campsite to care for Miku. She was attentive - breastfeeding him, changing him and keeping him bundled up in the warm and colorful mantas. Miku was miserable. His cough was sharp. And as with all sick babies, he was fussy.

Seth and I went with the Q’eros to their dance practices and presentations; did Despacho Ceremonies and Karpays; went out climbing; cooked and ate; and took hundreds of fabulous pictures. We were lucky with the weather – it has been very unpredictable this year – but the sun came out every day to warm us up and we were able to peel off a couple of the four layers of clothing we were wearing at night. The tents were good, it only sprinkled once, but the tents were covered in frost each morning. We were at approximately 15,000 feet above sea level. We headed back to Cusco Tuesday, 8 km trek (I wimped out - on a horse…) and then the 4 hour bus ride to Cusco from Mawayani. I got home Tuesday, somewhere around 10pm.

I later learned that Miku did not get better. Thursday the eighth child of Guillermo Soncco his wife, Marcosa, grandchild of Humberto & Bernadina, passed away. They have lost 4 of their 8 children. Marcosa asked if she could have copies of some of the photos I took of them. I took these photos up to Humberto & Bernadina's house in Santa Rosa last week for them.

Marcosa cried when she saw them, and was very grateful.



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