Only two more posts of my travels in Peru! Those bored to tears can clap loudly. Those who have been enjoying the series can look forward to posts and piccies of Ecuador in a couple of years. At least, that’s the plan for now.
We left Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca on my dad’s birthday. We hadn’t slept well, because of the small bed, how cold it was, and me worrying whether I would have to get up to use the chamberpot (I didn’t have to, yay!). We met the other members of our tour group back at the boat and enjoyed a slow ride to Taquille Island.
Taquille Island has a very interesting culture. We didn’t get to see a lot of it, because there just didn’t happen to be a lot of people in the village square that day. But when you have a guide, well, they’re full of information.
The cool thing about Taquille Island is that the women make all the clothes that the men wear, they name the baby boys, and they dress the boys. The men make the women’s clothes, they name the baby girls, and they dress the girls. So every once in a while you’d see a guy walking by in traditional dress with a weaving thimble thingie hanging from his hand. They cart them around everywhere.
The women wear pom-poms on their skirts. If the woman has a problem, the pom-pom is worn on a certain side. We saw such a woman when a couple of women entered the square, and one group member asked about her. Because Tito the guide had told us that the community met in the square every Sunday to air out problems. Problems are not allowed to be discussed or resolved at any other time. So when our group asked about this woman wearing her pom-pom on the “I’ve Got a Problem” side of her skirt, Tito said her problem, whatever it was, would not be addressed or fixed until Sunday. It was Thursday. She still had half a week to go!
The men wear different styles of hats depending on if they’re single, or if they’re ready to start looking (some might start at a younger age). They flip bits of the hat about like body language. It was really interesting!
Halfway up the loooooooooooong walking path to the Taquille Island square. Steve and I had to stop several times to catch our breath. The only people behind us from our group were the mid-sixties couple from New Zealand along with Tito, our guide. They were birdwatching. We had no excuse other than everyone else in the group was under 40, and most were in their late twenties or early thirties. We managed nicely considering (and as long as we didn't compare ourselves to the Islanders!)
If you look way, way off in the distance of the above photo, you can glimpse a hint of Bolivia. The view of the Bolivian mountains was breathtaking, but don’t really show up in my photos. The view of Peru from the Island was ho-hum compared to the view of Bolivia.
Taquille Island was pretty upscale compared to Amantani Island, where we'd spent the night, or Uros (the floating islands). A typical hillside view as we hiked to the square.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sky as blue as I did when I was on Lake Titicaca. It was so beautiful! In the foreground of the above picture, you can see a woman carrying a load down the path.
The homes on Taquille, like on Amantani Island and other islands on Lake Titicaca, are built of adobe bricks (compiled of sand, clay, water, maybe even some straw or manure, depending what you have on hand and where you live). On our way up the very, very steep island, we happened to pass a man making adobe bricks. The pathway passed right by his yard. I jumped up on a rock to get the two following photos:
Taquille Island resident digging mud for adobe bricks.
Now they just have to bake in the sun, and he can continue building his house. Note the boy having a break up top!
I don’t know if those wooden frames beside the boy help to form the bricks or what. They look like the right size but they seem a lot bigger than the bricks to me. The man was so busy at work I wasn’t about to stop him and ask (also, I didn’t know the right Quechua words).
View of Peru from Taquille Island, a few steps from the restaurant where we had lunch (outside).
After lunch, we headed back down to the boat. A very loooooooooooong walk down huge stone steps. It was harder on the knees going down than it was going up, because the steps were so big. Don't ask me why people so short in stature build such huge steps!
Having reached the boat, we were pretty proud of ourselves. Then Steve noticed this old fellow, an Islander, carrying two FULL propane tanks UP the steps! I tell you, it's like visiting Switzerland and seeing signs that tell you how long it will take you to hike a mountain trail...depending if you're Swiss or North American (hint, we're much slower).
The boat ride back to Puno was very pleasant. We spent a lot of time talking to the older couple from New Zealand (of course, I remember where they’re from but not their names—isn’t that typical?). A girl from Taquille Island in traditional dress hitched a ride back with us on the boat to Puno. She sat in the same spot in a hot part of the boat (outside) the entire ride, and her skirt was heavy and dark. I felt sorry for her, because she must have felt a bit out of place with all these tourists. But I have an idea her ride didn’t cost her anything.
I would have loved to take her picture, but it felt intrusive at the time to ask and taking pictures of Islanders without their permission isn’t exactly known as the height of politeness.
Back in Puno, we attempted to settle into The Balsa Inn for the night (again, I would not recommend this little hotel, at least not based on our experience!). It was quite comical. We said we didn’t want the same room as the first night we stayed there, because 80% of the light bulbs were out, the toilet didn’t flush, and the showers were frigid. Plus, it had 3 beds, and we only needed one. So they put us in a room on a different floor with only one bed. There was a TV with a cord and cable dangling from it, but no place to plug it in. We let the shower run for 20 minutes and it didn’t warm up one iota. I don’t mind “camping”-style accommodations (no hot water, no showers or baths, etc.) when I’m doing something like the Amantani Homestay, but when I’m paying decent money for a hotel room that HAS a shower, yeah, I kinda want to be able to TAKE a shower without zapping myself back to the Ice Age.
We were tired and dirty and hungry. So we put our nasty pants on, called the front desk, and told them that this room would not do, and gave the reasons why. Within a few minutes, two fellows arrived, first one and then the other. The first attempted to get the shower to provide hot water, but it was still as cold as when they’d put us in the room. So they admitted they would have to change our room. And guess where they tried to put us? In the same room we’d stayed in our first night in Puno! The one without the light bulbs, the toilet that was iffy about flushing, and water only one degree warmer than the room with no hot water at all.
We pulled on a second pair of nasty pants, and I do believe My Liege muttered the word, “upgrade.” This seemed to work, because we were escorted to a room on the 5th floor with a shower that had—ta-da!—plenty of hot water! It had two beds, and it had a curtained off area with a desk. We were in the junior suite or somesuch. Lots of room to spread out our stuff and repack in anticipation of our trip back to Canada the next day, which would consist of four different flights.
Trip Tip! If you want hot water for one precious night, ask for the top floor of your Puno hotel. Apparently, the top floor gets it all.
You can imagine how much we were looking forward to flying four different planes in 24 hours! But it was time to go home. First, though, we had one more stop—on our way to the airport! Being as this is me we’re talking about, of course more snafus occurred.
I ask you, what fun is life without a few snafus?