Stories From the Journey: Let There Be Joy and Laughter, by Kinlen

My first journey to Peru was in 2004. I remember meeting the Q’ero at a small stone shrine in the Sacred Valley. A group of about eight Q’ero men and women came running up to us shouting “Wayqi, Wayqi”. They circled Wake and gave him flowers and tied beads round his neck and wrists.They had met Wake before and had christened him with the Quechua word “Wayqi” which means Spirit Brother — a very common name that Quechua speaking men call other men who they are close to like brothers. This time both men and women called out to Wake by this name. It was musical, and delightful to see him welcomed in this way. The vision and sound has stayed with me to this day because of how joyful the Q’ero were, and how sweetly they treated Wake.

Joy and playfulness was, and still is, a big part of the Q’ero way of life and their relationships. I remember being in ceremony with them many times. Sometimes people in our groups were very concerned about being respectful, and sat very quietly during ceremonies. The Q’ero shaman would sort of look around, “like what is wrong?” And then one might steal the elaborately decorated hat from another and tossed up in a tree, leaving the other Q’ero to jump up and down trying to get the hat back. Everyone in the group joined in laughing and trying to figure out how to get the hat down. The Q’ero said that they wanted the energy of joy, the energy from all of life to be part of the ceremony. Over the years we would see families of Q’ero and other Peruvians circled up for a ceremony on the ground and everything imaginable would be happening… babies crying, laughing, small kids running around, running in and out of the ceremony, along with dogs and chickens, old people would be there for help with infirmities, young couples wanting blessings, and more. All of life was not only welcomed, but needed in the ceremony.

One year on a campout at the base of Quoquequero, one of the Q’ero placed a very large rock in Wake’s pack at the beginning of the journey. The hike was very difficult, and we walked all day. At the end Don Francisco was watching to see when Wake would discover the rock. He laughed and laughed was Wake scoffed and tried to throw the rock at him.

On another trip we brought glow sticks up the mountain with us and tossed them around the dining tent at night. Everyone had a great time. The Q’ero had never seen them before. They loved the sticks and took them to their tents that night. All night long we could see the glow of their tents and hear them giggling.

Let Their Be Laughter and Joy!