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Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Peru: A Brief History

With approximately 500,000 visitors each year, Manchu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist cites in the world. To visit Manchu Picchu is to feel what it must have been like for the Andean people hundreds of years earlier, it is a truly awe inspiring experience. However, for the Andean people, over the past hundred years, many things have changed.

Whereas tourism is the mainstay of Peru’s economy today, a hundred years ago the primarily industries were agriculture and textile production. Agriculture was important because it provided sustenance to the Andean people. Textile was important for them to keep warm, but textiles were also a valuable commodity and had great symbolism within the Andean regions.

During religious practices, cloth was the main ceremonial offering, and was used to show tribute to the elite. The practice of weaving was so sacred to the Andean people that shrines devoted solely to weaving were erected and worshiped. After colonization by the Spanish, Andean people wore woven textiles in assertion of their indigenous identity.

Over time, the Andean people’s lives have changed dramatically. Many have left their communities to seek out work as porters or cooks that cater to the influx of tourists visiting Peru each year. Others have to travel great distances each day to sell goods in city shops and markets, and the ancient tradition of textile manufacturing that was once such an integral part of the Andean culture is now on the verge of becoming extinct.

Tourism: The Sustainable Way

Danielle Weiss, Project Manager for Planeterra Foundation recently spoke with me about their project in Ccaccaccollo Peru.

 Since 2005, Planeterra has been working with the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to develop a weaving project. Three women from the Ccaccaccollo Community took part in a three-month training course held by a local non-profit organization in which they learned ancient weaving techniques including how to dye the wool using native flowers and plants. Each of the three women continued to teach the rest of the women what they had learned and today more than just women have joined together to create the Ccaccaccollo Women’s weaving co-op.

Gap Adventure groups visit this community as part of the Sacred Valley Tour where they have the opportunity to meet the women and learn about all the stages of the weaving process; from spinning the sheep wool, to dying the wool using natural dyes, and participating in a weaving demonstration. Travelers are also given the opportunity to purchase high quality textiles directly from the women who made them.

The Woman’s weaving co-op is an incredible example of just how tourism can be used to benefit the communities that they visit. The women economically benefit from the tourism that the weaving co-ops bring to their region, while avoiding the negative social and cultural impacts of having to leave their communities to find work. Ninety-five percent of all money earned at the co-op goes directly to the women and five percent is given back to the community to ensure its continued growth. The living conditions, healthcare, and educational standards within the community have all increased due to this project, and a younger generation is finding a new sense of pride in their cultural heritage.

Planeterra Foundation is an organization that truly changes people lives!

Make a donation by clicking here.

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Watching the opening ceremonies to the Winter Olympics while sitting on my friends couch, was my inspiration for a road trip that took myself and two friends to the centre of it all: Vancouver, British Columbia.

Vancouver is a vibrant city for people to visit. Nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is in one of Canada’s best geographical locations. Vancouver’s climate is much milder than that of its eastern neighbors, the city is surrounded by natural beauty, and it offers some of the best outdoor activities in the world.  Vancouver has also been awarded “best city to live in” numerous times.

It’s not surprising then, that Vancouver would be given the honor of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. During these Olympics, the eyes of the world were on Canada. Vancouver was at the centre of this and I was only a one-hour ferry ride away from the action.

The workload at school was building up, but there are not many chances to witness the Olympic Games first hand, let alone have them hosted in your own backyard. With that in mind, on Saturday, February, 20th, my two friends and I woke at 5am to catch the ferry to Vancouver. It was a good thing that we left so early, because the line to board the ferry had already started to spill out the front doors. Eighteen hundred people boarded the ferry that morning all decked out in white and red. They were feeling the same sense of pride that we were and were heading to the mainland to show it.

Once in Vancouver, we got off the Sky train at Waterfront Station in search of the torch that ‘The Great One’ himself, Wayne Gretzky, had lit only a few days prior. Although it was still early, the city was buzzing with excitement. The streets were busy and there were so many people, that they spilled into the streets.

From the tourch we proceeded walked through downtown. We watched different street performers showcase their talents, from juggling fire while riding a unicycle, to break-dancing in a spandex one piece. We were tempted to zip line across Robson square, but we couldn’t justify the seven-hour wait in line. As the night settled in and the sun went down, when on a normal evening people in Canada would be going to bed, Vancouver was just waking up. The streets became one large party; people were yelling and cheering all in support of their home country. I have never before seen such a sight. People from all walks of life all joining together for one common purpose, celebration.

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Hello World!

In my lifetime, I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful places on Earth and meet some incredible people along the way. However, for most of my travels to date, I  held the philosophy of “living in the moment”. Sadly, this also means that I have no real documentation of these experiences. I’ve never taken many pictures, although I love photography and I’ve never kept a journal, although I’ve always wanted to. It is for these precise reasons that I have started Bright Side Of The Road.

I love to travel and I don’t foresee this changing any time soon. Bright Side Of The Road will capture all things noteworthy! Talks with fascinating people,  visits to places near and far or whatever thoughts that might inspire typing.

Enjoy.

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