Modern Vs. Traditional: Potato Park

Set high in the Andes mountains, four thousand feet above Cusco, is a community that makes up Parque de la Papa.  Also called Potato Park, six thousand people live in this area and are divided into six qeswa communities.  The location is high in altitude and difficult to travel to due to the winding dirt roads.

IMG_6512Although it is not far from Cusco, a bustling city that thrives off of tourism, the community is very isolated.  Parque de la Papa was the first place that we had visited where I felt the culture had not been spoiled with tourism and flash.  As we climbed the mountains into this area, I could tell that this was not a show, but the way of life of these people with or without our existence.  The clothing, architecture, language and economy was all based on a tradition, lost by many other native communities.

While many other Andean communities are forced into a livelihood changed by the government and pressures of the outside modern world, this community holds close to their past.  Their society is based off of three main principles, including equity, reciprocity and duality.  While most of the world revolves around an individual based ownership and work culture, this community continues to act as one large body.  Through these three principles they are able to help harvest each members crops together and share goods and resources, ensuring the well being of everyone.

IMG_6519Because the community is not required to pay taxes, they are very removed from the government and development of the outside world.  They therefore have very little modern technology and continue to use traditional growing and harvesting techniques.  Based on their religion and their main principles, they then focus on the harmony, balance and well being of the land and each individual person.

While most modern communities create competition and materialistic members, this community holds true to a very different society.  I feel this community is therefore able to stay more sustainable and stable even when living in harsh conditions.  The peaceful, generous and hardworking society should be a lesson to us all on the importance of modernization and development, and how it affects our outlook on life.

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