A welcome break from sleeping in hostels or buses, this night I spent in an authentic Quechuan village in a real home with indigenous people. The tourist company arranged to take us to Amantaní (अमंतानी) and Tequile (तकीले) (not Tequila!) islands which are inside lake Titicaca and about 4 hours away from Puno city by motor boat.
We reached Amantani island around noon and our tourist group was split into smaller groups of two and three. A “mother” led the three of us (Me, an Australian lady and an American guy) to her house and showed us to our rooms. It was a very simple house, with small rooms, a courtyard, and a backyard. The inhabitants of these islands are quite short and so the roof and the doors were quite small. The locals spoke Quechua (क्वेचुआ) language, which is the original language of the land (until the Spanish arrived). They worship traditional Inca deities, elements of nature and their ancestors.
After a late lunch which consisted of a plate full of potatoes of various types, sour cheese and herbal tea, we started hiking to a local hill called Pacha Tata (पाचा ताता – Father Earth). It had a small temple dedicated to the deity and offered a wonderful view of the lake Titicaca. We spent long time there – some people wrote journals, some people took pictures, while others sat and spent time with themselves or their partners. Things were remarkably calm, peaceful (and very cold!).
These islands are the highest inhabited islands in the world, and consequently some members had breathing problems. It was also quite cold (less than 10 deg C) and thankfully I shopped for some Alpaca wool sweater and a colorful hat which kept me warm.
You could see both – sunset and sunrise from this point. The splendid view of the Sun dipping into the gigantic lake behind tall mountains was accentuated by the display of brilliant colors in the sky. It was as if the sun was setting with a fanfare after celebrating a whole (and quite eventful) day on Earth.
We retreated from the hills. Everyone was already hungry as our little excursion at very high altitude was quite demanding and took almost four hours. After we returned, supper was ready for us. The mother of the house was very friendly, and she spoke only Quechua. With my guidebook and the limited words it offered, I tried to strike a conversation but it was useless 🙂 After dinner I offered to wash the dishes, but she said that boys are not allowed to work in the kitchen. How traditional!
The night was just starting. The mother dressed me up in a traditional poncho and a hat and we went to the village hall where tourists and their mothers gathered for a Fiesta. Young boys played wonderful music, very typical while we were shown to some kind of dance. The celebrations ended after more than an hour after which we went back to our house and slept a very peaceful sleep. Away from the world, with just two light bulbs in the entire house, and ofcourse, no internet 🙂