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Juan, the Guardian of Alpacas in Peru

Driving slowly into the heights of the Andean highlands, you will find yourself surrounded by snow-capped peaks scraping the heavens. In the distance, you’ll spot small dots of villages huddled vicariously along the vast Peruvian mountainside. As you finally slow to a stop and step out of your vehicle, a mass of white will catch your eye: no, these are not clouds, they are a huge group of Alpacas, all gathered together for a special ceremonial blessing.

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It is here that your host Juan and his family will come to greet you with warm smiles and big hugs, and they will welcome you graciously into their village home. Dressed in traditional garb, Juan will tell you a little of his story before performing the special and intimate Alpaca blessing.

Born and raised in the small village in the Peruvian mountains, Juan has dedicated his life to farming and caring for his family’s home and herds. Because the conditions are so extreme at the top of the Andes mountains, only certain products can survive, namely potatoes, corn, and, of course, Alpacas. This is how they survive in the mountains.

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Alpacas are especially important to Juan and his whole village. So, they perform special ceremonies to continue to ask for blessings on the herds. First, all of the alpacas are gathered together, and the youngest are brought to the front of the herd. Cocoa leaves, incense, feathers, and other items are gathered up in a pouch and burned, and special water is thrown over the tops of the heard while the baby llamas are decorated with flowers & natural colors as prayers are spoken. At the end of the ceremony, the people dance around the herd with flags and vibrant clothing until all the llamas are released back into the mountains.

Who wants to join Juan and his family on the next Alpaca adventure in the Andes?


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