Parque de la Papa: Observations Regarding Traditional Practices vs Modern Practices

About 14,000 feet high in the Andes Mountains is a place that was created by local individuals who farm potatoes. Chesapeake Semester visited Parque de la Papa on October 26th. The organization that oversees Parque de la Papa enforces the wearing of traditional outfits, thus everyone we encountered that day was wearing bright colored, extensively decorated panchos and outfits. We were blessed and welcome with the sprinkling of flower petals on our heads. After learning about where we were geographically, we made a few stops along the mountain exploring the potato park.

Here, the traditional methods of living overpowered modern methods, especially at about 14,000 feet in elevation in the Andes Mountains. In a way, if the culture of these people was not enforced by an organization, there is the possibility that the culture may die out. The people who lived here, lived simply, unlike our, US way of living. The houses, including those that were part of Parque de la Papa, were run down and did not have any sort of technology. Some of the houses and buildings had running water for sinks and toilets, but houses inhabited by the common folk more than likely did not.

One of the most heartwarming experiences for me was approaching children who were playing nearby while we were eating our lunch. Alejandra accompanied me and we began to ask the children their names and what they were doing. The four children sheepishly answered, giggled, and avoided eye contact. There were four of them, three boys and one girl. The oldest boy spoke to us the most. Their clothes were ripped, stained, and dirty. Their feet were covered with dry mud. yet they smiled, laughed, and played together, being nothing short of perfectly content. We asked if they would take pictures with us. After they agreed, the cameras clicked a number of times, when Doug said, “Did you show them the pictures?” Without even thinking these children may have never seen one of our large cannon cameras, we turned, kneeled, and held the cameras towards them, showing them the pictures of themselves. They squealed and laughed, almost in disbelief that they were seeing themselves on these foreign pieces of technology. That was when I realized that these four children would never have the technology or opportunities that most children in the United States will eminently have.

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