Basket Weaving and Community Workshops

To begin the day, we went to Pancho’s house, the man who organized our homestays, and learned how to make baskets out of thin branches found in the high Andes. These are called canastas in Spanish and require a lot more skill to make than we initially thought. Pancho has been making these baskets for his whole life because his father taught him when he was very young. We started with a bundle of branches and weaved our way to a basket under the close instruction of Pancho and his wife Balbina.
Pictured is everyone with their completed baskets after three hours of hard work. We completed the baskets in four steps. First, we weaved the sides of the basket with new sticks that Pancho had brought down from the mountains. Second, we used the tops of the bundles that you see in the previous photo to complete the base of the basket. Third, we used a pattern of laying the bundles of two section and under the third to create a braided rim. Finally, Balbina cut the excess branches and leaves from the baskets to polish them off.

In the afternoon, we went to a local school and ran some workshops including bracelet making, soccer, and, as you see here, The Marinera. The Marinera is a traditional dance here in Peru and Senor Viacava taught us and the local kids the basic steps. The Marinera uses the handkerchief that you see in the photo to communicate between the women and the men dancing with each other.

Another one of the workshops was teaching some of the local kids board games like checkers and chess. Some of them had already played them before but for a lot this was a new experience. Another game they loved was Jenga but everyone already knew how to play this and so it became very competitive. Another workshop was bracelet making where we taught some local kids how to make friendship bracelets. Teaching the workshops was a slightly challenging because the kids speak Spanish very quickly and we have limited vocabulary; but we made it work.

-Alex & Ainsley