(Continuation from “Living the Peruvian Experience: The Beginning,” in All Peruvians play folk near Metro Centrum!)

Peru is ecologically diverse

Let us have a look at the llamas. In every place I have been to I have faced some kind of comment about Peru and the llamas, sometimes coming with a tiny spark of innocence and curiosity, sometimes with a drop of irony and feeling of superiority. Even then, however, I have managed not to fall into the mistake of thinking that people actually believe that that is Peru’s only species of mammal. Nonetheless, I do think that most people find the llama Peru’s most representative animal, sometimes up to the point of believing that most Peruvian families may domesticate it in order to keep it as a mascot. Well, gladly I can be very objective on this matter given that, as I can recall, the first time I saw a llama was at the zoo, and the last time I saw one was 10 years ago at a touristic site.

To begin, where does a llama live? Llamas from Peru mainly inhabit the cold regions of the Southern Andean mountains. Thus, if the majority of people in Peru (2/3 of the population) lives in the coast, mostly in urban areas, why is that most people around the globe think that Peruvian families keep llamas as pets? Even if they wished to do so, at some point some animal protection society would intervene, given that neither the desert Pacific coast nor the chaotic cities are suitable environments for the llamas. In the same way, sending them to the Amazon rainforest could be harmful to these sociable animals due to the high humidity, the high temperatures, and the exposure to unusual predators, among other important factors. Then, what is the big deal about the llama?

We believe the most precise answers will be given by photography and other visuals. Whenever we attend a photo exhibition or we watch a documentary about Peru, the llama is the center of attention. Indeed, we cannot deny that the exotic factor tends to call attention everywhere and will so increase the value of a determined visual project. However, where we are trying to go with this is not to limit a cameraman to put some added value to her/his work by pointing at the exotic and colorful even if that implies fostering a disequilibrium in the public opinion about a place. We are only trying to say that in further projects we could exploit more the natural richness Peru has, going beyond the llama.

It is hard for us to understand how the image of the most ecologically diverse country in the world, with 83 out of the 103 ecosystems and 28 out of the 32 climates on the planet, could be reduced to a single animal, which in the eyes of Peruvians is actually one of the many representatives of a single region of Peru: the mountains. And if we only focus on mammals, Peru has the biggest diversity of mammals in the world and one quarter of South America’s mammal species. Poland is educated enough as to understand it and Peru is diverse enough as to provide it, thus, let us exploit those capacities.

Luis Escobedo