Heart of the Andes
The Cordillera Blanca of Peru was home to the oldest known Andean civilization, Chavin de Huantar. As early as 1500 BC people settled in these remote high mountain valleys because of the mild climate and the fertile land. Their carvings depict mythical beasts, part human, part jaguar, part condor, and part serpent.
What remains of these ancient people beyond the crumbling stone walls is expressed through the blood lines and the rituals of the local campesinos. These traditions are crumbling faster than the walls as the remote towns become more connected to the outside world and the young people shift their attention to the cities.
These photographs document a culture on the verge of extinction. On my last visit to Peru, the once serenely peaceful plazas were choked with idling vehicles and outsiders hawking cheap foreign goods on blue tarps. When I left town in a small pick-up, I was the only person wearing a traditional hat and poncho. What has become of the Heart of the Andes?