The People of Peru’s Sacred Valley

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A diverse people in a series of portraits.

G Adventures photographer and video producer Oana Dragan travels to Peru’s Sacred Valley to captures its wonderfully diverse people in a series of portraits.

Whether it’s trekking the Inca Trail to capture Peru from a distinctive angle, or travelling to Bhutan to contribute to its Gross National Happiness, Oana Dragan marries her passions for art and storytelling as a photographer and video producer for G Adventures.

She draws inspiration from the people she meets on her travels, capturing photos and stories that evoke a sense of community and cause us to reconsider our place in the world. She believes that no matter who we are and where we come from, we all share a common desire to be happy, to follow our bliss and to contribute in our own unique way — and photography is an ideal way to share this fundamental wish.

In November of last year, Oana travelled to Peru’s Sacred Valley on assignment, and along the way captured its wonderfully diverse people in a series of portraits.

“We met when we were shepherds…”

We met when we were shepherds. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
We met when we were shepherds.
“…we were young children. He used to have pigs while I had sheep — and that is how we met each other. That’s where we fell in love. After that we went our separate ways. He went to the valley looking for a job while I went to Cusco. I missed him a lot…”

“In Cusco, I learned Spanish…”

I believe destiny brought us together. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
I believe destiny brought us together. 
“…because I only knew how to speak in my mother tongue [Quechua]. I also learned how to cook and clean the house, so it was a very useful time for me. We met each other unexpectedly at a bar in the village of Pisac. I believe destiny brought us together as this wasn’t planned. We met when we were children, fell in love, split for different reasons and then we were brought together again. So, from then on we remained together and eventually got married.”

“When I was a little kid…”

I missed out on a lot of love. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
I missed out on a lot of love. 
“…my mum used to drink a lot so she didn’t take much care of me. I missed out on a lot of love. I also only studied until the third grade, so I had no real education. It got to the point where I had to be sent away to live in an area close to the jungle. I was raised by a lot of different people. I hope to give my children what I didn’t have. I make sure to play with my kids and give them lots of attention. I usually take them out farming with me.”

“I wake up at about 5am…”

I head to the market to sell my weaving products at my stand. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
I head to the market to sell my weaving products at my stand. 
“…every morning, make breakfast and take the kids to the bus station so they can go to school. I then return and prepare a lunch box for my mother-in-law because she takes the sheep to feed in the mountains. After that, I head to the market to sell my weaving products at my stand. I spend about two hours there and then return to make lunch for my husband and I. He used to work as a porter, but is now cutting stone in the quarry to make houses. After that, I start weaving to make more products to sell. In the afternoon, the kids come back, we have dinner and go to bed early so we can start the day early again tomorrow.”

“I think about children’s future…”

When I farm, I think about the future of my children. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
When I farm, I think about the future of my children.
“…when I farm. I hope they become professionals. That they go to university and study. I want them to have a career. I want them to have options. Some people have no choices. When there is no good weather, farming is not so good. I want my children to have a better future. Not just farming. I want my children to become more than me.”

“We have to be very careful…”

Harvest is my favourite season. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
Harvest is my favourite season.
“…with our approach to farming. First, we water the land. After that, we work with tools to dig furrows and then we put down really good fertiliser. We use only natural fertiliser. Animal shit. Then we mix it very well. After that we plant the seed. Could be potatoes, could be corn, or it could be quinoa. We then cover it and add more water. Sometimes we use bulls to plough to help us seed. We rely mostly on the rain for the crops to grow. Harvest is my favourite season.”

“I’m happy because I am travelling…”

Making art is my gift. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
Making art is my gift. 
“…all the time with my art all over South America. One of my favourite countries is Brazil. I am originally from a city close to Cusco. When I make my art, I am only focused on what I am doing. I started about eight or nine years ago. For two years, I was making musical instruments. I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to do this. For making me an artist. Making art is my gift. I want to keep travelling and learning more about different cultures and people. I’d like to have a family sometime in the future but for now I am just happy travelling.

“Working makes me happy…”

Working makes me happy. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.
Working makes me happy.

“…I’ve been doing this for 50 years. We are made of the Inca blood and we have a legacy to preserve. We pass down our traditions from one generation to another.”

More of Oana’s work is featured on ‘Any Good News’, a website dedicated to creating feel good content, and on ‘Face the Planet‘, an Instagram feed that features portraits of our planet’s unique inhabitants.

Getting there

Travel With Intent a Collective Hub x G Adventures collaboration, whereby our CEO and founder, Lisa Messenger, invites you on an adventure of a lifetime, Amazon to the Andes. Find out more.

Photos courtesy of Oana Dragan. This post originally appeared here.

C Luis Vasquez, MD

Unique piece of literature! I now live and work in the Peruvian jungle in Yantaló. Moyobambba. Used to live in Chicago for 38 yrs!! We see natives dressing and fishing as their ancestors did. Safety is the standard of living. Visit the the rural jungle of yantalo.org

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