In July 2015, my spouce and I were crammed in to a stuffy minivan with 12 others, climbing away from Lima’s seaside mist in to the sun-filled hills lots and lots of foot above. After hours of dirt clouds and hairpin that is dizzying, our location showed up below—the remote Andean village of San Juan de Collata, Peru. It had been a scattering of adobe homes without any water that is running no sewage, and electricity just for a few houses. The number of hundred inhabitants with this grouped community talk a kind of Spanish greatly impacted by their ancestors’ Quechua. Reaching the town felt like getting into another world.
My spouce and I invested our first couple of hours in Collata making formal presentations towards the town officers, asking for authorization to analyze two unusual and valuable items that the city has guarded for centuries—bunches of twisted and colored cords called khipus. After supper, the person in control of the city treasures, a middle-aged herder called Huber Braсes Mateo, brought more than a colonial chest containing the khipus, along with goat-hide packets of seventeenth- and 18th-century manuscripts—the key patrimony associated with the town. (mehr …)