It was time for a boat ride. The other morning, we woke up early, packed an overnight bag, and took a small boat out to visit the islands of Lake Titicaca.
Our first stop was to visit the man-made floating islands of the Uros people. Each “island” is made from lashing totora reeds together, creating thick mats of reeds that float moderately above the water. The people of these islands initially started living off the boats they made from the same reeds to escape the tyranny of budding empires in the area. Eventually, their boats got bigger and flatter, becoming the floating masses that are still in use today.
It turns out the reeds are quite tasty, too. We were each given one to try, and they had a sweet flavour, like a mild sugar cane, but with a spongy texture. It reminded me of when we were little and we’d pull single blades of grass out of the ground and nibble on the whitish part on the bottom.
Not long after our tour of the Uros islands, we piled back into the boat and made our way to Amantani, where we’d be spending the night. Upon arrival, we were met by our host mother, Norma, a womderful little woman who was all smiles. Almost as soon as we got to her home, it was time for one of the most amazing meals I’ve had in a long time. We had a great quinoa and vegetable soup, with potatoes and some fried white cheese. So good!
The island itself has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve had the pleasuring of seeing. Standing on the unsteady balcony outside my room, I could see straight out onto the lake and the high mountains that border it. The lake is a beautiful clear blue, the air is fresh, and the whole place feels incredibly peaceful.
After dinner, Norma dressed us up in the traditional costume for the area. I wore two large skirts with a multi-coloured wide belt and an embroidered blouse. To top it off, I wore an embroidered headcloth.
After dark, we wandered down to the town hall to dance the night away. Norma was a fantastic and enthusiastic dance partner, my legs were sore later.
The following morning, Norma woke us up early and stuffed us full of more great food. We headed down to the dock, said our goodbyes and we were off to Isla Taquile.
Though beautiful and serene, there wasn’t much to do on Taquile. We expected to go to their museum, but it was closed for the day. It wasn’t the end of the world to me, since it gave us a chance to wander and take in the quiet life that seems to exist there.
There is a long length of stairs that goes from the water’s edge to the entrance of the village. I stood there for awhile, just enjoying the little window that the archway created. As I stood there, people passed in and out of it, going about their business. This island was full of quiet scenes. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that felt as peaceful.
In a shop, there was a huge wall of hand-knitted hats, all made by the local men. I was told that here the men tended to do the knitting, while the women did some of the weaving work, but mostly spend their time working with food.
The patterns on the hats were all representative of local folklore and traditional geometric designs. They were each unique in their own way and seeing them all together on the wall made a really beautiful “tapestry” of craft.
It was a little bittersweet when we piled back on the boat to return to Puno. I really liked Taquile.