The informant is a 21 year old girl raised in Lima, Peru. She moved to the states 3 years ago for college. Her first language was Spanish, and she learned English in the classroom. She never spoke it outside the classroom before coming to America. She had a more stories about Peruvian culture than I realized was possible. This specific
Informant: Peru is very diverse. It has 3 different regions. It has the highland, the coast and the jungle. It is also very diverse in terms of its different economic statuses. There is a big difference between the very very poor and the very very wealthy, which is unique… not only to Peru… but to a lot of South American countries. There is a lot of tradition.
Me: Can you pick one thing to go in-depth into?
Informant: In the jungle, particually, there is a lot of tradition in using homeopathic medicine. It is like medicine from natural resources. Back in the day, when the Inca empire existed, the Incas gave a lot of value to the sun as their god. And also the motherland as their god. So there are still these traditions going on even now, in smaller, of course, less urban areas. For example, in the jungle we have what are called shamans. We also have them in the highlands, but they are really common in the jungle. They are basically… natural doctors… that heal. But they also do a very ceremonialhealing process in which they sing a song in their native dialect. Theydress up in very traditional clothing and also use natural plants for the healing process. So everything is completely natural. Everything is based on plants and different scents that they use to heal you. There is also this tradition, that I have actually done, in which people believe in plants having a supernatural power in which they can read your future. So when I went to Couzco, I went to this small little town in which there was a woman who claimed she could read the future through Coca leaves. She would literally throw them around sing in Quechua which is the natural dialect of the Incas. And would read your future.
Me: Was she right?
Informant: Yeah, she said that a big change was coming. And it was going to change me a lot and for the better and that I was not going to want to come back. I was going to leave to a place and not come back. And I was going to be really happy and find my passion. I never mentioned that I was moving to a new country. She said it all herself. The whole ceremony occurred in this small room. She had little stands and images of the virgin Mary, as well as a lot of coca leaves and a lot of traditional plants from the highlands. Everything was in Quechua. But she told me my future in Spanish because I don’t know Quechua. It was a very traditional.
Me: So you do believe that this all works?
Informant: I mean, I do believe that it may have some supernatural power. Coca leaves, especially in the highlands, coca leaves are just the most valuable thing in the world. Back in the day, when the Incas had to work in the highlands, they would eat coca leaves because they have high caloric power and would give them energy. It is also really good in tea. It helps with altitude sickness too. Everything in Peru, coca leaves.
At this point the informant began talking about a different ceremony using coca leaves.
My analysis: I found the informant’s account of these events as fascinating. The way she was so passionate about all the different Peruvian cultures and traditions and could not seem to say enough about any of them was a different experience compared to some of the other people I spoke to. I am personally not sold on the supposedly psychic woman. I felt as though her predications were similar to horoscopes in that they were overgeneralized. It would be impossible not to find something relatable in that description. That being said though, 3 years later and the informant is still looking back on what the psychic told her and comparing how similar her life is to the prediction. There is clearly still a huge respect for and abidance by tradition and ritual in Peru. I gather this is because of its rich history. The connection to the land definitely comes from previous cultures, as well as the dependance that the people have on the land. When something plays such a large role in so many people’s lives, it is not surprising that it becomes sacred and revered.