This is one of my guides on the Inka Trail, Saul, who taught us so much about the land and culture of the Inkas and Peruvians. Here, he was teaching us the coca leaf ceremony – in which you pray to Pachu Mama (mother Earth) with the coca leaves before consuming, usually making an offering to Pachu Mama as well by leaving a leaf or a few, much like many Peruvians offer some of whatever they are about to consume before eating or drinking. Peruvians, especially those physically exerting themselves, will chew these and (like chewing tobacco) leave the chewed leaves in the space between the gums and cheek, allowing the coca leaves to give a little boost. The coca leaf is the origin of cocaine, but cocaine goes through a chemical process, so simply chewing the leaves does not mean you are taking a dangerous drug. The coca leaf is also brewed in tea, used for religious ceremonies, and for altitude sickness. Saul wore this intricate hat during most of our four day hike and taught us so much useful information and history.