Spending the night with a local family
07.09.2009 - 07.09.2009
Just got back to Puno this afternoon after visiting a couple of Islands on Lake Titicaca.
We took a boat out yesterday which took about 3hrs to get to the first Island where we had lunch and a wander around the Island of Taquille. It was so peacful and interesting to see how the locals live. Whilst having lunch we got a wee song and dance which was nice. On the Island the men are the weavers and make all the hats, blankets, clothes etc. We were shown some of the things they make and they were really good. We were shown two types of hats, one has a large white section at the top with a big bright pompom and the other hat was fully coloured with a smaller pompom. This is because single men on the Island make and wear the white one with the big pompom and when they find someone they want to marry they pressent the hat to them. It takes about a month to make the hat and it has to be made very well because when the boy goes to the girls family and asks permisson to be with the girl he has to fill his hat with water, the hat must last at least 10mins before letting any water leak out. This is a way of showing the family that he is a good weaver and will therefore be a good husband. The other hat is for the married men to wear.
From this Island we took the boat for another hour until we reached the Island of Amantani. This is the Island we met our families on to spend the night with them in their homes. I thought we were spending the night on the reed Islands but we werent, it was just a normal rock Island. We were split into couples and taken to our homes for the night. They were very basic, a bit like mud huts with toilets outside and chickens and sheep in the garden. They have no electricity or hot water and there is nothing much on the Island, only a couple of wee shops selling food and water. Our family consisted of a mami and papi and four children, two boys and two girls ranging from 3yrs to 19yrs old. The family were very welcoming but the language barrier was hard, they mainly speak Quechuan and some Spanish. We did most of our communication using sign language! I couldnt remember a thing from the Spanish classes but Kev was a bit better. The ice was broken by their 3yr old boy who we ended up playing games with and tickling.
We played football with the locals (exhausting at high altitude) and then went back to our families for dinner. We huddled round the clay stove in their kitchen and had noodle soup followed by fried veg and rice, again very basic but really tasty. After dinner we got dressed up in their traditional clothes. I had on a big puffy skirt, an embroidered shirt and a beautiful embroidered shall and Kev had on a poncho, all of which were hand made. We were then taken to the small hall and shown how to do some traditional dancing. It was good fun, we were thrown about everywhere. It reminded me a bit of Scottish Country Dancing.
In the morning we were given pancakes for breakfast and then said goodbye to our families.
From there we got the boat back towards Puno, stopping at the reed Islands of the Uros. These are floating islands made out of reeds, very cool to see. There were lots of little Islands all grouped together with about 7 families on each Island. They use the roots of the reeds as the base of the Island which they have to ankor down using rocks and then build up the Islands using the reeds, piling them up on top of each other about a meter high. They have to top up their Island with fresh reeds every month. Their homes are also made out of reeds and can be picked up and moved!! The man was telling us that if anyone falls out on the Island they can pick their house up and turn it around so that their doors face away from each other, and if there is a major falling out they can pick their house up and sail it over to another Island!!! How good would that be?!
We then got on one of the boats made of reeds and sailed around the Islands, it was a little scary but once on the boat it was so peacful. I have never seen anything like it, I couldnt imagine living on one of those Islands. It would be ok for a while to chill out and recouperate but I would go mad after a few days.