Recently, Andeana Hats hosted its first Women's Retreat on March 8th-15th to celebrate International Women's Day. With the help of Pleiades Peru Tours, we led 8 incredible women across the Sacred Valley and Amazon in Peru to visit the origin of Andeana Hats. Andeana creates sustainable products and income opportunities for remote indigenous communities in Peru. On this tour, we curated an incredible journey to meet the communities behind these businesses, see how they create their products from scratch, and get a bit of relaxation and exploration in while taking in the incredible beauty of these two completely different worlds that both exist within Peru. We focused our itinerary on spirituality and intention setting while in the Andes Mountains and self-care and wellness while in the Amazon.
We asked a few of the women that attended our retreat to guest blog about their experience in their own words. Both Pats and I feel so at home in the Sacred Valley of Peru and have been so many times that we wanted the perspective from the women who had never been to Peru before. Thank you ladies for your contribution and your infectious energy on this retreat. The magic that you experienced is why we created Andeana Hats and the idea behind hosting this retreat. I feel very lucky that we were able to enjoy this adventure together just before all borders to Peru were closed the day after our retreat ended. Our world may never be the same again post-Covid 19, but the lessons still remain the same. What we need more than ever now in our world is to connect with each other and tap back into the beautiful, universal energy of Mother Earth. The Quechua people have always understood this and continue to live their life in reverence to the Earth and I think this retreat could not have come at a better time to inspire us on how we need to be better as human beings on this planet.
ANDEANA HATS WOMEN'S RETREAT TRAVEL DIARIES
Written By: Kelly Tousignant
The Sacred Valley is indescribable. The intentions that the women in the weaving communities of the Sacred Valley still resonate with me every day since the retreat and my return to the United States.
Laura Grier is one of the co-founders of Andeana Hats and one of the most compassionate, giving, caring, and bravest women I’ve ever come into contact with. I have been working with Laura and Andeana Hats from Los Angeles for the past 8 months and I fell in love with the impact that Laura has and still wants to make on the world, making it and its occupants the best version of itself. She in turn has given me a chance to help in any way I can. She has educated me on the uniqueness and authenticity of the Sacred Valley, who they are, and what they have to offer. Laura explained the Andeana Women’s Retreat to me. It included meeting, staying with, learning, eating, and experiencing their way of spiritual and physical day-to-day life. I was immediately overcome with the thought of finally meeting the woman of weaving communities that I had been learning about and working with for the past 8 months.
When I stepped out of our tour van and saw the ancient ruins leading to the weaving community at Chincheros, my breath was taken away. Words like beautiful, gorgeous, and colorful were all I could think about. Although, the feeling you get is more from within. Spiritual, soulful, and in awe of all the natural beauty that is surrounding you.
Just when my eyes were getting into focus and sending these images manifesting in my mind, we hopped back in the van for what I was really waiting for… to meet the woman who make the Alpaca hats and intention bands I work with on the daily! I thought I was prepared and had a pretty good knowledge of the Quechua people. I did not. They work with fully sustainable and environmentally safe textiles that help each other prosper without hurting humans or the earth. Something we can all learn from. They are still centered on these ancient ruins, ancient ways, and morals that lead with peace, tranquility, religious practices, teamwork, family, hard work, love and loyalty. I am already in love with the Sacred Valley.
We met and dined with and experienced the ways of 3 communities. Each had their own unique way of doing things. Every community loved, lived, and laughed with each other and us. These communities shared, taught, and let us in to their lives. Living life without the materialistic aspect of the world is absolutely breathtakingly refreshing. They bring the intentions that they are weaving from their past and from the Sacred Valley as they weave. This way the intention that they weave can now be channeled through the wearer. It’s something so special that every person should have the opportunity to own something woven by these communities in the Sacred Valley.
This Andeana Woman’s retreat has changed my life for the better. Enlightened me to corners of the world with such sparkle that I will do whatever it takes to help sprinkle that sparkle wherever and however I can.
THOUGHTS ON DAY ONE OF THE RETREAT
Written by: Kathleen Laccinole
After arriving in Cusco, our first stop was Chincheros where we visited their magnificent archaeological site and colorful market with a variety of Andean products from communities all over the Sacred Valley. Then it was on to Misminay, located at the outskirts of Cusco, where we were welcomed by a parade of music and song. Our new Quechua friends dressed us in traditional Quechua clothing and fed us a yummy lunch made with fresh produce from the garden. After our lesson in the Quechua language, we were escorted to a field with breathtaking views of the Andes to experience the Pachamama ceremony, an ancient offerings ceremony where one gives thanks to Mother Earth, and connects the material world to the spiritual world.
We made our goodbyes and headed to the enchanting city of Ollantaytambo where we’d stay for two nights. After a quick lunch at the Parwa Guesthouse, it was time to visit the weavers of the Misminay Community where the intention bands for Andeana hats are woven. These beautiful women weavers gave us a demonstration of their ancient weaving traditions - from cleaning the alpaca wool, to hand spinning it, preparing the dyes, dying the wool, and finally - their magical weaving techniques. Who knew that red dye comes from beetles that live on cactus? Even more fun was learning their secrets to folding fabric into the backpacks so distinctly associated with the women of Peru. Even babies are swaddled up inside the colorful cloth and toted around on mother’s back. We had to fight the urge to over-shop, knowing we had eight more days ahead of us… But the products were so lovely, so uniquely special, some of us lost that battle. It was a full day, our minds buzzed as did the eagerness for day number two.
On Day 2, after an early morning breakfast, our velvety-voiced guide, Maria, picked us up and off we went to visit the Willoq community, all happily wearing our colorful Andeana hats, looking like a living Vogue photo shoot.
We hope you enjoyed reading these travel diaries from the amazing women that joined us on our retreat. Do you want to visit Peru with us?