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In my previous post, I wrote about my time on Lake Titicaca and standing on the Floating Islands of Uros. We traveled to these islands by boats that were made out of reeds but then also hopped back onto our motor boat so that we could make it to our next destination, a short visit to the Island of Taquile.
Taquile Island, where community is everything
You’ll notice in the picture above that we’re all wearing jackets made for extreme cold conditions. Lake Titicaca is so far above the sea level that the temperature can be extreme. I was wearing layers of clothing, gloves and a warm hat and I was still finding it hard to keep warm. That didn’t make the trip any less exciting! When the boat docked onto the Island of Taquile, we were so excited to be visiting a place that has hardly changed for thousands of years. They are community oriented and really do believe in the fact that it takes a village to raise a family. Whenever a family needs to build a new home, the villagers will work together to build the homes in an efficient and speedy manner. They believe that in order to live well together as a community, they must work hard and respect each other. It was really refreshing to hear about. This is the view from the top of the island. We just sat around and enjoyed the calm vibe and village atmosphere.
Life is interesting on Taquile Island. Our tour guide said that when choosing their mate, a woman will look out for a man who can knit well, whereas a man will look for a woman that knows how to farm. So ladies, you know that when you’ve found a good man on Taquile Island if he can knit a scarf with precision – attention to detail – I like it! Gentleman, you know you have found a wonderful lady if she can wear a gorgeous Inca-style dress while still able to farm the land.
We had a delicious seafood lunch at Taquile Island before jumping back onto our boat and making our way to our Inca home on Amantani Island.
The Amanti Island, home of our Inca family
When we arrived on the Amantani Island, we had spent a long day on Lake Titicaca, so we were glad to finally be on land. This island is quite rocky and harsh but it was still a beautiful site, especially when you see the glistening waters of Lake Titicaca behind you.
My first impression of the Amantani people was that they are extremely hard working and friendly. We met the women who were going to take us in as their family for the next few days. They were about 4 ft. 11 and had a blanket flung onto their back to mimic a backpack, and the blanked held loads of empty bottles that were being recycled. Mama Blanca was our Inca mama and she was this wonderful, smiley lady of about 50 years old, but with the strength of someone much younger than her years. She walked with us for the half hour walk to the house that we would call home for the next few days.
Our room was immaculate and had the comfort of a small B&B. She had taken care to ensure that we were warm and lent us an Inca style hat so that she could differentiate us from the other tourists. We sat and enjoyed a delicious vegetarian dinner of quinoa soup and vegetables. It was one of the most flavoursome soups that we ate on the trip! I even went for seconds, much to the surprise of Rick who knows that I do love eating meat with every meal.
Care for some football?
After supper, Rick and the boys enjoyed a football match with the rest of the community. It was very entertaining because at such a high altitude, the boys tired easily and could not get their bearings right.
As the sun started to descend, we all decided to go for a walk to the lookout. The walk was quite strenuous as we really felt the high altitude put pressure on our lungs. We’d stop every now and then to enjoy the scenery and to look out into the waters of Lake Titicaca.
When we reached the top of the lookout, the sun was setting and we were able to enjoy the views some more.
Darkness falls over the village
There is no electricity on Amantani Island so we rushed home carrying our torches to ensure that we were home before dark.
This is when the fun began. Mama Blanca knocked on our doors and told us in her native Quecha language (combined with sign language to get the point across) that the Inca disco will be on tonight. I was very excited and managed to talk to her in Spanish while she dressed me up in the traditional Inca dress. I wore a white, embroided top with a large, layered skirt and my hiking boots underneath. You couldn’t see my hiking boots, so I still felt like a glamorous Inca girl.
So off to the Inca disco we went! We met the rest of our tour group in the large community hall, where the music was joyful and the people were merry. Our tour guide even organised a birthday cake for one of the girls and we danced around her the traditional Inca way. That is, we flailed our arms in the air and moved our feet to the beat.
The lighting is not so great in this picture but I’m sure you can appreciate the big smiles on our faces to indicate the fun that we had!
After the Inca disco, Rick and I retired to our room and fell asleep almost immediately. Mama Blanca even brought us some extra blankets because she could see that I was muy frio (very cold). I slept like a baby that night!
The sun was barely up when we heard a knock on our door. I woke up startled, since I’m not a morning person. Mama Blanca was asking us to wake up and have breakfast. We sat in her kitchen, which had the traditional clay pot stove and fire place. We watched her make us a traditional western breakfast of pancakes, the Inca way. The pancakes were made in a different way with slightly different ingredients, but were absolutely delicious. We were so full that we had to go back to our rooms and rest a little.
It was the last day of our Inca home stay and we went to meet some of our friends near the football courts. We giggled about the previous night’s activities ad also discussed the delicious meals that we’d had with our Inca family. Frank had a rooster as his alarm clock. He woke up from a well rested night to see a rooster perched up on his bed squawking at him to get up! He jumped out of that bed in a flash and had to do a double take because he could not believe his eyes. Only in Peru! Love it!
It was time to farewell our Inca family and thank them for their hospitality. Mama Blanca trekked with us to the wharf while I happily practiced my Spanish and Quecha with her. I just love the sound of these languages. They are like music to my ears.
When it was time to board our boat, we exchanged thank yous and waved goodbye. I thanked her for showing me parts of their world, her delicious meals and wonderful hospitality. It was definitely an experience to remember and something I will tell my grandchildren one day!
Do you have a story that you would tell your grandchildren one day? Or a story that you have felt proud to tell your grandchildren? If so, what is it?