I caught Teresa at a bad time.
She was struggling to open an iron sluice. Irrigation ditches surrounded her, turning her house into a peninsula jutting out from the road. I strolled off the path and hopped over a channel, introducing myself as I ducked under a clothesline.
The Colca Canyon’s undulating hills are so green they made me wince; the breeze so disparate, my ears were inundated by nuance.
I’d just walked for several hours along a country road and seen far too many jagged mountain peaks, valleys of wildflowers and plentiful cropland. The place is a photography newb’s wet dream—close a shutter and develop a masterpiece.
We took turns. Me fruitlessly tugging at metal and her, more productively, whacking the thing with a stone to try and jar it loose. After a few minutes, she stood and seamlessly transitioned into her next, more achievable, task.
Teresa and I walked and talked for a while. She was going to another house down the road to get some cheese. Along the way I asked her about different varieties of quinoa and discovered haba.
We talked about her hat, which is ornately embroidered with animals and symbols. This means she’s a descendant of the Cabanas, one of two tribes occupying the Colca Canyon. I asked her where she’d bought it. She gestured back the way I’d just come.
The brilliantly dressed woman and I parted ways at the edge of a field. She made her way through a forest of yellow flowers, and I kept pounding the pavement.