Vic jumped aboard one of the rickety bikes with me and together we suggested to our driver that a speedy safe arrival at our destination would earn him a nice little bonus. Funny how the locals always understand what you’re saying when money is involved!
Arriving at the waterfront, we had a quick market stop which afforded those who were interested in the touristy trinkets on offer a chance to haggle for a good deal, and for the rest of us the chance to take in the scenery around the lake’s edge including a perspective of the town of Puno we were unable to see after nightfall last night.
The market stop also gave us all a chance to purchase some gifts for us all to give to our host families on Amantani following their hospitality this evening.
Boarding our boat for the day, the “Rio Willy”, we were introduced to our local Lake Titicaca guide, Oswaldo, who welcomed us to his part of the world and set about imparting some of his knowledge about the geography of the large lake and its surrounding regions.
By this point, most of us already had noses pressed to the windows taking in the beautiful scenery passing by outside the vessel.
En route to our morning stop on Taquile Island, we passed by “Amantani” the village we would later be settling in at for the night with local families for our “homestay” experience.
We were fortunate to pass by and observe a boat of young fishermen going about their routine – a bit of an insight into the daily life of the people we would be immersing ourselves in later in the day.
Arriving at the stunning “Taquile Island” we took some time to wander through the gum-tree-littered farming terraces and walkways that have been so obviously cared for to ensure the lucrative tourist dollar continues to arrive in their village and be suitably impressed, just as we were.
Pausing in the village square, the keen shutterbugs amongst us were presented with a rich array of photo opportunities with both the local villagers and blue-sky scenery on show.
This lovely man allowed me to take his picture while he was sitting in the shade off to one side of the village square, knitting. Without doubt, one of my favourite photos from my entire journey through Peru.
Lunch was at a really surprising affair, put on at a little place called “Restaurant Florida” perched on the side of a hill with sweeping views of the vast Lake Titicaca.
Soup and lake trout was served as we all sat and attentively listened to Oswaldo’s great talk on the local textiles including the knitted accessories, all crafted by the men, that are worn by the men of the village to signify if they are single or married.
It was all very interesting stuff.
More beautiful scenery was in order as we made our way from the village, and Restaurant Florida, back down to a quaint little port on the opposite side of the island to once again board “Rio Willy” and head back out onto the lake.
Arriving at the shores of Amantani, a Peruvian island on Lake Titicaca with a population of around 3,500, we were met by brightly coloured community members who greeted us and led us to the nearby school parade ground where we were introduced to our host families who would be graciously taking us in for the night.
Johnny, Sam and I were introduced to the patriarch of our host family, Gabino. Although not really having a lick of English, he welcomed us warmly and let us know that we’d be well looked after while in Amantani.
Next up, as is apparently a beloved tradition for the Amantani men, a huge soccer match kicked off between the G Adventures guides and travellers, and the skilled local lads.
Sam, a Brit, stared for the G Adventures crew, and I even made a cameo appearance to head in a ridiculously accurate throw in from Rob to help us home to a good spirited 6-5 win.
In one of the more unusual transitions I’ve seen for a while, we launched straight from the soccer game into some traditional dancing.
First though, we headed up into one of the school classrooms where Gabino was waiting with some local threads which he proceeded to help us to climb into. In no time at all, we were all looking pretty slick and part of the village.
We weren’t the only ones getting a style makeover, however, and as we emerged back on the parade ground, we found the sun setting behind storm clouds in the distance and our now brightly costumed compatriots gathering, with the ladies having their hair traditionally braided for good measure.
Oswaldo stepped up with a few more educational gems before formally welcoming us and presenting the various members of the village who proceeded to put on quite the show of traditional dance which, as expected, we were thrown into ourselves in no time at all.
After much sweat was generated and laughs had, it was time for a bit of a party, replenishing our fluids with a beer or two, plenty of photos and more dancing with the young Amantanian children as the night set in.
Gabino and his 15 year-old sin Edgar eventually pulled us away from the festivities and led us up the hill behind the school to their property consisting of 5 shelters, a sheep pen and an impressive veggie garden.
We were shown to our clean and comfy 3-bed hut where we settled in, washed up with a bowl of water supplied to us each by Edgar, and then launched into some pre-dinner card games. Edgar was quite keen to join in. The language barrier made it tough for us to teach him anything too wild, so we settled for some intensely battled games of Snap and Memory.
Once called for dinner, we made our way into the main family shelter where we were introduced to the rest of the family including Gabino’s wife, daughter and two grandchildren Elvis (2 yrs) and Evellyn (4 yrs). We presented our hosts with gifts of pasta, rice, tuna and some fruit, and were then treated to very large portions of vegetable soup accompanied by a rice and potato dish and some tasty mint tea.
We were handed a cheat sheet of “Aymara” language phrases and questions which we attempted to run through reducing the vast chasm that existed between our two languages, but that was quickly exhausted. We found some common ground, however, in Spanish and Johnny’s Spanish phrase book became the saviour of the night!
With the really fun evening with Gabino and his family coming to an end, we headed off to our room where we discussed the fun day we’d just had, before it was lights out.
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