Soup Lady

Today while cycling under the intense sun of the northern highlands of Peru, I saw a woman cooking something in a giant pot outside her house. Out of curiosity, I stopped and asked what she was cooking. She told me it was Shambar soup made of wheat and beans. To my surprise, she offered me a big bowl of soup. While I sat in the shade and enjoyed eating the soup, a bunch of women from the nearby houses arrived carrying pots and buckets to collect their share of soup. They all were spinning sheep wool into yarn by hand. In this picture, you see one of them.

Most Peruvian women in villages make use of their free time by spinning wool. They do this when they are walking from one place to another, herding livestock animals, visiting someone, or waiting for a bus, etc.

This woman is wearing a distinct handmade Cajamarca hat which is worn by most men and women in Cajamarca region. The wide-brimmed straw hat provides a good protection against the sun which is very intense in this region. Apart from that, the hat is also used as a basket to carry fruits, vegetables, and other goods. Peruvian people take a lot of pride in wearing hats. A good Cajarmarca hat costs between 500 Soles to 1000 Soles (150 USD to 300 USD) and is usually the most expensive personal item for Cajarmarca people.

After finishing the soup, I tried to give some Soles (Peruvian currency) to my host but she refused to accept it despite my insistence. She said, “you are a guest, and you don’t look rich. Save this money for your bicycle travel. You might need it.”

In her house, I saw a shy kid in the corner and slipped this money into his pocket and asked him to buy some biscuits for himself.

Peru has to be the friendliest country I have visited so far. Peruvian people are polite, helpful and incredibly friendly and open to strangers. Besides, they don’t mind having their picture taken.

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