Updates from the Sacred Valley

It’s been an exciting past couple of weeks in the Sacred Valley of Peru. After about a week of orientating myself to the work that Ayni Wasi does, I began diving into my main project for the summer: transitioning Ayni Wasi to an electronic medical records system. After many hours of researching and experimenting with different software options, and after several planning meetings with my supervisors, we made the final decision to implement the new system using OpenMRS, a free and open-source medical records platform.

Hard at work on my OpenMRS project.

During the past week, I’ve been working on customizing the OpenMRS user-interface to meet the specific data-collection needs of Ayni Wasi. The transition from Excel spreadsheets and paper forms to a more sophisticated medical records system will allow the organization to more efficiently keep track of patients longitudinally and conduct data analysis reports automatically.

Outside of the office, I’ve been exploring my surroundings and taking in the many cultural events Ollanta has to offer. June 7 marked the first day of a four-day annual religious festival called honoring the patron saint Señor de Choquekillca. During the festival, which is based on a synthesis of Catholic and Inca religious traditions, the usually quaint and peaceful Ollanta becomes a different place. The town is filled with dancing, music, and delicious street food. Dozens of dance troupes fill the streets, each troupe having its own ornate costumes and elaborate choreography that tells a story of Ollanta’s past.


Dancers from the Panaderas dance group perform in the Plaza de Armas during the festival.


The skies are ablaze with elaborate fireworks on the first night of Choquekillca.

Choquekillca is just one of a number of special events in Ollanta during the month of June. For example, yesterday, I embarked on an early-morning hike to special point in the surrounding mountains where members of Ollanta and other nearby towns gathered to watch the sunrise and celebrate the winter solstice, or el solsticio (yes, it’s winter here!). As the story goes, the Incas used to congregate in the same place and observe the sunrise on this day every year. They would determine, using specific cues from the sunrise, whether or not the coming year would be a good one.


Waiting for the sun to rise over the Sacred Valley during el solsticio.

I only have a few weeks left in Ollanta, but there are still many adventures to be had and much work to be done!


Until next time!

¡Hasta luego!

Or, in Quechua: Uh ratu-kama!


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