A Borrowed Moment in Q’eros.

Cheeks lay bare an unquenchable and unattainable thirst for moisture and respite from the unrelenting high altitude sun. Scars will indelibly remind him of the harsh realities of existing above 15,000 feet, higher than most people will ever stand in their entire lives. But will he ever even see himself in a mirror? What’s vanity when the mirror in front of you showcases some of the most beautiful terrain on earth? What’s ego when the land will perpetually humble you until your time has expired?

His lungs will bulge. Impossibly large and strong. His heart will pump blood with the power of the Amazon, while many of ours will struggle to pump enough blood to nurture a babbling brook.

His steely countenance and palpable stoicism hold ancient secrets and a certain wisdom of his ancestors. It’s hard to place, but impossible to ignore. His life is shaped by the nature around him. He has no choice. He was born into it, and will rely on it for survival.

No distractions inundate his daily life. No electricity, no toys, no connections to the world outside of his hidden valley tucked away further sheltered by the towering apus (mountains). His life will be unfathomably uncomfortable. There is no room for laziness or much complaining. They will fall on the deaf ears of the cool mountain breeze as it swiftly carries them away down valley and into the modern world, where they will ruminate and bask in a place that celebrates and encourages them.

As insulated as life is here, it’s hardly static. A rudimentary road has been built two days walk from his community. A way out.

Will he take it in the coming years? Will he realize what’s beyond his remote home? Will he relish in the faster strides of life, or find himself running back to the patient rhythm of nature? Will his first taste of relative comfort be his last of homegrown sustenance?

What will be his hopes and dreams? How will he come to identify with his small isolated culture of Q’eros. A group of people who fled for the hills when the Spanish arrived in the early 1500’s and remained hidden and uncontacted until roughly 70 years ago. Will he do his best to preserve his roots deeper into the soil, or will he plant new seeds and germinate in the city?

How will this ethereal meeting of our eyes alter our souls? He is but a boy, but his curiosity and life force run deep. You see, these portraits aren’t just images to propel my art or merely look at.

They are preciously borrowed moments I’m beyond grateful for in how they teach me to contemplate and act in the world. A moment’s gaze sends my reflections cascading into the liminal, a space reserved for deep monologues into the meaning and modalities of life.

As he sits quietly in a small patch of dirt as his mom works her small little chacra (farming plot), I can only imagine what he look like to him, and what is this foreign object that’s held up to my eye?

I click the shutter internally inquiring if it’s the right thing to do? I still question these moments, but ultimately, I hope they express a quest for curiosity and paint a poem of human dignity.

Ultimately, my flawed self is most likely seeking the enlightenment this little boy already holds within.




Be Curious. Be Compassionate. Mental Musings and Visual Meanderings. Home is in Colorado. Guide in Peru. www.ryankostphotography.com

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Ryan Kost

Ryan Kost

Be Curious. Be Compassionate. Mental Musings and Visual Meanderings. Home is in Colorado. Guide in Peru. www.ryankostphotography.com

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