Each June, hundreds of Peruvian families come together for a one-of-a-kind festival near the village of Quehue. About 100 miles from Cusco, Quehue boasts an ancient tradition rooted in the culture of the Inca. Lasting four days, the event includes bridge building, dancing, a feast of local delicacies, and marks a unique way to learn about Peruvian culture for kids.
Learn more about the Q’eswachaka Festival and why it helps locals “bridge” the cultural gap to their past.
The Inca Trail
Peru is known for its famous network of Inca roads, vestiges of a sophisticated South American civilization that flourished before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. But the trail would have remained incomplete without rope suspension bridges perilously hung hundreds of feet above the ground throughout the Andes.
Today, only one bridge remains, and it plays a central role in the Q’eswachaka, which translates as “braided bridge” in the Quechua language. From June 7th to 10th, villagers come together to rebuild the last Inca bridge. The 118-foot-long bridge spans the Apurímac River, and it has become emblematic of local culture.
The festival begins with the dismantling of the previous year’s bridge. It is cut away and dropped into the river below. Then, over the next two days, women from the village pound and weave grass to form the fibers of the new bridge. They chew on coca leaves and drink chicha (fermented corn beer) while they work. The atmosphere is festive and light despite the arduous task they labor to complete.
While the women work on the ropes for the bridge, the men craft the new bridge’s handrails and floors. By the time two days pass, the materials have transformed into a workable bridge. By the end of the third day, the bridge is complete.
In celebration of their hard work, community leaders cross the bridge. They are followed by locals with the gumption to cross the precarious swinging structure poised hundreds of feet above the river. By day four, the event culminates in a feast of local delicacies including alpaca and cuy (fried guinea pig.) Costumed villagers perform traditional dances in celebration of their achievement.
Peruvian Culture for Kids
This annual festival means far more to local villagers than a fine dinner and dance party. It represents the bridge to their cultural heritage—a link to their past. Interested in learning more about Peruvian culture for kids? We’ve got you covered. Follow our blog to learn more about the history, food, and cultures of South America.
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