Travel Journals from Peru and KK intl.

by: Tanner Wendell Stewart

Visiting the Krochet Kids intl. HQ in Peru was a life changing experience. Peru is such a beautiful country but very different than life in America. I went to Peru with a hope to capture the life there to share with the world. I think Krochet Kids is making the world a better place because of the products they are creating and the women they are employing and equipping and empowering. Its such a huge honor for me to be part of that.

We started out in Lima. Our taxi driver kept falling asleep at the wheel, and it made for some very funny “welcome to Peru” jokes.

We then flew to a smuggler city called, Juliana. Then we drove 2 hours into the middle of the Puno Region. with our awesome local driver Edwin to the beautiful Mallkini Ranch. The thin air and altitude was a first for me. I have spent a decent amount of time around 10,000 feet but to go from sea-level to 13,000 feet caused unfortunate altitude sickness. If it wasn’t for modern medicine and Ibuprofin, my headaches would have spoiled the adventure. Thankfully I was able to function, albeit slow and short on breath. We spent a few days at 13-15,000 feet.

The first 2 days of the trip I saw approaching thunderstorms and rushed to set up my tripod, and two tries in a row I missed lightning bolt photos by a few seconds. I was bummed, but hopefully a huge storm rolled through and I got my shot! ironically after all my patience and work, Rob was able to photograph me with a lightning bolt by hand ! That photo was truly my favorite image of the trip!

After photographing lightning, and Alpaca herds at 15,000 feet, we drove to Puno to where lake Titicaca is. I had flu like symptoms because of the altitude, so I slept through the sunrise and caught up on sleep. We spent a few hours in the morning there, but headed off on a 7 hour road trip to Arequipa, which is a beautiful picturesque mountain city surrounded by 20,000 foots active volcanoes. The drive took us through mountain passes at 15,000 feet and through crazy canyons, and was surprisingly a very nice highway. When we arrived in Arequipa we had dinner at an american restaurant. TGI Fridays. We woke up the next morning to some AMAZING views of the mountains surrounding arequipa. The silhouette of the mountains is the largest I have ever experienced, truly awe-inspiring.

After an all day adventure photographing the entire michelle alpaca factory process the wool from sorting to deliverable yarn, we had some amazing food. I had guinea pig, tried rock shrimp and alpaca. It was quite the dining experience, I also tried beef heart and my favorite food in Peru, La Lucha! Someone open up a la Lucha in Seattle please!

The next morning we woke up for sunrise and hailed a taxi and asked him to drive us up the mountain. I did a few hours of research on google maps and street view finding places for us to photograph.  As we drove up a road toward a mountain called Chachani, I was in awe of the surroundings. It’s surreal because the higher we drove, the worse the poverty got. In America, the higher up the mountain you drive, the larger the houses get and the more coveted the land is. Up there all of the property seemed to be free for the taking. On the drive down the taxi driver took us to the most beautiful local spot. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen; the mountains and a river canyon.

We flew back to Lima and spent a couple days at the Krochet Kids Headquarters seeing what the team does. The yarn from the Mallkini ranch, that we had witnessed the production of was now knitted into the final beanie. Seeing the end of that journey gave me such a cool idea of the supply chain and what it takes for products to be made.  I was absolutely humbled and inspired by what the team at Krochet Kids is doing in the world. They are not only giving these women opportunities to make money, support their families, and grow but to truly empower and equip them. Seeing the impact that the KK intl. team are making in Peru was so much more than words can describe. It was obvious, powerful and real. I was truly impacted by it and want to be part of what they are doing, forever. I love this quote by Kohl, CEO & Co-Founder of KK intl. “We didn't want to be another organization creating a cycle of dependency. We wanted to empower people beyond our support.” This is a good way of summing up what Peru was for me. This trip was a chance for me to document the landscapes of peru and the process of the World's Greatest Beanie but it was so much more than that. Peru and KK intl. left within me a deeper desire to use photography to make the world a better place and to live more simply. It also gave me this overwhelming sense that beauty exists, everywhere. Thank you so much KK intl. and Socality! 

Photo by @tannerwendell

See more of Tanner's adventures on Instagram @tannerwendell