The people of Peru’s Sacred Valley

January 16, 2017

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.

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.

She draws inspiration from the people she meets on her travels, capturing portraits and stories that evoke a sense of community and cause us to reconsider our place in the world. She believes that everyone has a story to tell — and photography is an ideal way to share it.

We met when we were shepherds. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

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..."

I believe destiny brought us together. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

I believe destiny brought us together. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan

"In Cusco, I learned Spanish — 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."

I missed out on a lot of love. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

I missed out on a lot of love. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan

“When I was a little kid my mom 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 theird 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 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. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

“I wake up at about 5am 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 portee, 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.”

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. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

"When I farm, I think about the future of my children. 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."

Harvest is my favourite season. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

Harvest is my favourite season. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

"We have to be very careful with the procedure we use when farming. First, we water the land. After that, we work with tools to dig furrows and then we put down really good fertilizer. We use only natural fertilizer. 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 plow to help us seed. We rely mostly on the rain for the crops to grow. Harvest is my favourite season.”

Making art is my gift. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

Making art is my gift. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

“I’m happy because I am travelling 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 nince 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. Photo courtesy Oana Dragan.

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."


Getting There

Cradle to the vast Incan Empire, the largest in pre-Colombian America, Peru's power and gold attracted the Spanish conquistadors who used it to fund their own vast empire in the Americas. As a result, colonial gems like magnificent Cusco were built on Incan foundations, making for a fascinating hybrid culture. G Adventures runs a number of departures in the Sacred Valley encompassing a wide range of dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you another side of [Peru{(https://www.gadventures.com/destinations/south-america/peru/) — check out our small group trips here.

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