Encounter of seeds of the ancestral roads of maize of the Qero Nation, Peru

October 2018

The town of Ocongate at 4200 meters high, with rain and wind, receives the Qero families that descend from the 5200 m where they live. They come to the First Encounter of the ancestral Roads of the Corn of the Nation Qero, a great meeting with diverse communities coming from several Qero territories to celebrate together around the corn.

From the previous day the mamitas and also the men cooked communally to receive more than 300 guests. The menu includes llama meat, soups and many different dishes of corn, which they themselves sow in a territory down in the jungle, an initiative supported by the Milpa Alliance and which this year allows them to extend the planting space from 1 to 5 hectares.

Very early, the guests begin to arrive, who present themselves as a group, always accompanied to the sound of the flute and the drum, presenting their respects to Mother Earth and the homeowner.

Once they are all in a circle, they begin to share the traditional dances of their own territories, all around the planting of maize. It sound the songs raised with the wind to the fields, which are prayers that appreciate the good sowing and subsequent harvest, recognizing that this ancient act is the fundamental pillar of the people and their sovereignty.

Later each community presents its best weavers, experts in the art of shearing, cleaning and dyeing the wool with vegetables and roots, who sit on the ground and prepare to start weaving. Then a jury qualifies which community and representative is most skilled in this art.

Later it is the turn of gastronomy: different ancestral foods are arranged in a large table waiting to be qualified and recognized as the representative dish of this year’s maize food. There are so many varieties, colors and flavors that the winner’s choice becomes a real challenge, while the mamas are in most cases accompanied on their backs or between their skirts by their little children with large eyes that look attentive and nervous to each person who tastes their food.

Then comes the time for lunch where in large pots are men who by habit serve the food between smiles and jokes that are made to each other throughout the process, in a space of healthy joy and coexistence.

At the end of the day, recognition is given to those who participate and the winners are chosen, who are given as a prize some llamos and sheep, which are received with great joy and emotion. The common language among so many people of different origins is obviously the smile. An intense rain arrives to close the day, causing each group to retreat running to shelter and then return for hours walking on the way to the high mountains where their continue with their day-to-day lives, protecting their ancestral knowledge and traditions.

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