Whether it’s trekking the Inca Trail to capture Peru from a distinctive angle, or traveling to Bhutan to contribute to its Gross National Happiness, Oana Dragan marries her passions for art and storytelling as a photographer.
She draws inspiration from the people she meets on her travels, capturing photos and stories that evoke a sense of community and cause us to recognize our place in the world. She believes that no matter who we are and where we come from, we all share a common desire to be happy, to follow our bliss and to contribute in our own unique way – and photography is an ideal way to share this fundamental wish.
With all that in mind, Oana traveled to Peru’s Sacred Valley on assignment, and along the way captured its wonderfully diverse people in a series of portraits.
“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 … “
“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 was not 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 stayed together and eventually got married. “
“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 third 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 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 porter, 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. ”
“I think about children’s future …”
“… when I farm. 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. “
“We have to be very careful …”
“… with our approach to farming. First, we water the land. After that, we work with tools to dig furrows and then we put down a 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 favorite season. “
“I’m happy because I’m traveling …”
“… all the time with my art all over South America. One of my favorite 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 nine 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 traveling 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 traveling.
“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. “
Originally published February 21, 2017.
G Adventures runs a wide variety of trips in Peru’s Sacred Valley – check out our small group tours to experience Peru and its people for yourself.