Llachon, a small rural community on the Capachica peninsula in Lake Titicaca, Peru. Here, dancers perform during a fiesta celebrating the patron saint, Saint Anthony of Padua, and the community’s anniversary in June 2013. Many residents have left to study or work in cities and the mining industry, but many return for festivities.

When I was 13, in 1981, I immigrated to the United States with my parents and sister from Peru. Since that time the D.C. area has been my home. In many ways, I’ve lived a hybrid life based on values, traditions and experiences of two countries, which is nothing unusual for immigrants. But as I’ve gotten older, and the reality that I have lived in Washington for about three-fourths of my life has set in, I have become more nostalgic for Peru — family, food, friends, traditions.

Three years ago I embarked on a long-term project exploring my roots; in particular, I wanted to document daily life, festivals and traditions in Lake Titicaca, Puno√, where my Italian great-great-grandfather immigrated to in the late 1800s, from Italy. Like me, he was an immigrant and a photographer. and He was also a writer, and musician, and completely immersed in the life and culture of his adopted home, never returning to his native land.

By the time I was born, my family had long left Lake Titicaca, but that’s where many of the great stories I heard as a child came from. And as the folklore capital of Peru, it is also central to Peruvian identity. Whereas Puno was a new land that meant a new identity for my great-great-grandfather, for me it is a land of inherited memories and part of my identity. Like my great-great-grandfather, I, too, have made my life in a new country. In most ways Puno, in the Andean high plains with an altitude over 12,000 feet, could not be more different from Washington, yet both places represent home for me.

Hector Emanuel photographs social and environmental issues in Latin America and the States.


Musicians at a festival celebrating the Virgin of Candelaria in Puno, Peru, in February 2015. During the fiesta, about 15,000 musicians come into the small city to play and celebrate.

At the fiesta in Llachon, one dance uses animal costumes such as gorillas to represent strength.

Girls at the Puno festival.

A sack race on the first Beach Day at Lake Titicaca in February 2015.

Dancers at the Saint Anthony fiesta. Although recently Llachon has had a bit of an economic resurgence due to tourism, the four-day festival is still very much a local affair.

A man sets off fireworks early in the morning to announce beginning of the day’s festivities in Llachon.

The small community of Chucasuyo celebrates the Jata Katu, the new potato seed festival, in February 2015. The people celebrate the potato harvest, whether it’s good or bad.

A bullfighter in Llachon in June 2013.

The festival in Llachon continue for four days.

A little boy at the Llachon fiesta.

This man rents fancy horses to communities such as Llachon for their festivals.

Sousaphone musicians in the Sonido Brass Orchestra rehearse a few days before the festival celebrating the Virgin of Candelaria in Puno.

A girl gets ready to participate in the fiesta in Llachon.

An altar for the Virgin of Candelaria at the Church of San Juan in Puno.

More In Sight: 

Looking back at New Year’s Eve in Times Square

Seldom-seen photos show what America looked like in the 1940s…in color

Heartbreaking photos show what it’s like living in a walled city of a brothel