Monday, 13 September 2010

Peru Trip: Taquile

Ugh, first Monday back in work and am sooooooo not feeling it after being out for 2 weeks. 53-days to go until San Francisco!!! Not that I'm counting or anything. I have to put on my 'it's fun to work here' face today too, for my new starter - help at last!!! Fortunately she is in orientation much of the day so I only have to fake my enthusiasm intermittently!!

Anyway back to Peru. So despite tossing aside one of the two pillows I was supposed to sleep on to maximise my intake of oxygen on I woke up very much alive in Puno on day 3 of our trip, although I slept horribly and woke up with a pounding sinus headache. Apparently headaches and insomnia are a side effect of altitude adjustment. Fun!!

At 8am the group convened in the lobby, with our day packs readied for our overnight stay in Amantani, to meet with Oswaldo, our Edgar Adventures guide who would be taking care of us over the next couple of days. At our briefing the previous evening Ybone had handed out leaflets concerning what to take for our overnight stay:

1. T-shirt, optionally long sleeved shirt
2. Long trousers, optionally shorts (extra)
3. Warm clothing and a jacket or a fleece
4. Raincoat or poncho
5. Hat and sunglasses
6. Sun screen/block (very important)
7. Walking shoes or boots
8. Camera and film
9. Money in Peruvian currency. Take small change with you (changing a S/. 100 note is virtually impossible)
10. 1 liter of water (available on the island)
11. Extra snacks (optional) biscuits, chocolate - Peruvians generally seem quite obsessed with having enough snacks
12. Toilet paper
13. Items: 10, 11, 12, 14 you can buy at the port before departure


14. Take a gift of fruit or food (e.g. tinned milk, tinned fish, cooking oil, pasta etc) (Opt.)
15. Torch/flashlight and batteries
16. Sleeping bag (optional, there are blankets)
17. Personal medication
18. Personal basic toiletries, small hand towel
19. Sense of humor

Leaving the hotel we were greeted by the sight of 4 pedicabs - for want of a better word. They were a little different from the ones in New York with the driver at the rear rather than at the front putting the passengers at the front and center of Puno's morning traffic - which took us on an exhilarating and often hair raising ride down to the docks for the 2.5hour trip across Lake Titicaca - which means grey puma in the Aymara language - to Taquile. It cleared my head anyway, although I was soon feeling the worse for wear as a result of the fumes coming off the boat.

On the way over to Taquile I tried to keep an open mind about the home-stay visit on Amantani, however if I'm honest I already had some reservations about - I am just not someone who loves the idea of staying at a stranger's home. Give me a hotel any day - nevertheless I was trying my best not to let the experiences of the American woman in the hotel lounge the previous night, the one who had seemingly hated every moment of it, colour my perceptions. "A lot of people list the home-stay as a highlight of their trip," said Melissa, "second only to Machu Picchu!!"

Well we'd soon find out!!

"Will we have our own room?" Asked Jacqui

"No. Most homes only have two rooms" replied Oswaldo

Hmmm!!! Did that mean that we'd be sleeping in the same room as other members of the family? I wasn't thrilled at that idea and if I could have slept on the boat I would have, which incidentally was pretty comfortable with soft upholstered seats. It wasn't long before every member of our group had closed their eyes for a bit of a snooze.

Taquile is inhabited by around 1700 residents and is known for it's high quality textiles, exclusively knitted by the men of the island. Taquile men begin to knit at 8 years of age while women make the yarn. The colour of a Taquileno's hat is indicative of his marital status with red hats signifying married men and mostly white hats signifying single men. Apparently the way single men wear their hats also denotes whether they are openly looking for love or not. Sadly however these traditions are slowly disappearing as Taquilenos increasingly send their children to the mainland for school.

Arriving at the island around 11.45am we walked up a pretty steep hill to the town square - practice for the Inca trail, we really felt the lack of oxygen - and were given 25minutes free for sight seeing before convening for lunch at a local restaurant.

All restaurants on Taquile serve the same choices of omelette or trout, a local specialty although not native to the lake, but introduced (from Canada I think our guide said) in the 1930s. I did ponder passing on the trout in favour of the omelette - all those bones - but I am glad I didn't since the trout was amazing. Butterflied, pan fried and served with rice and chips. Delicious!!

Lunch was washed down with a mug of coca tea, leaves not teabags, and afterwards we walked down a more gentle path to a dock and it was onto Amantani.


Amel said...

OK you've answered my question he he...SORRY to hear about the sinus headache, but LOVE LOVE LOVE the pics! WOWWWW!!!!

Amel said...

Oh yeah, forgot to say that the "pedicab" looks very similar to Indonesian rickshaws he he's a pic of an Indo rickshaw: