A couple of months ago I led a a very nice couple from Colorado in a three week private tour that ended at Lake Titicaca – and what an adventure it was! We stayed at the Hotel Jose Antonio in the outskirts of Puno enjoying spectacular views over the lake and the Bay of Puno. The following morning we were met by two young men of the family of our godchildren, William and Julio Cesar who had docked their boat right by the hotel. To my big surprise Compadre Gonzalo came walking towards me. I knew that he had gone to the coast in Tacna seeking temporary work in agriculture some months ago, so I had not expected to see him, but it appeared he had taken leave for a few days in order to meet us. I was very very happy to see him and gave him a big hug. We opened our chuspas (finely woven coca bags) and engaged in the ritual exchange of coca leaves before we sat in the front of the boat to tell each other all the family news. I worked out that we had been close friends for already some 28 years!
As always we briefly visited the Uros floating island and then went on to Taquile Island where we spent a couple of nights at the home of our our godchildren Maria & Elias. Last October little Edzhiel was born (after 15 years of marriage!) and I was thrilled to finally meet him and hold him in my arms.
Everyone in the family came to the house to greet us and plenty of hugs were exchanged. We sat in the Patio and were soon spoiled with the most delicious food. In case you didn’t know: the Taquileños must surely be the best soup cooks in the world! The meals are simple and healthy, using home grown staple foods such as potatoes, quinoa, broad beans, chuño (freeze-dried potatoes), ollucos and oca (Andean tubers), served with ají (fresh chillies and onions) and muña tea (a minty herb that grows everywhere on the island).
Compadre Gonzalo guided our walks on the amazing new pedestrian highways. We visited the pre-Incan ruins and enjoyed breath taking views. We also had a weaving demonstration which was joined by the members of the extended family and thus we learned about the process of producing the beautiful textiles the Taquileños are so famous for.
It was an uplifting experience to be on the island again and to share with family and friends. Life is very simple there and without creature comforts! The kindness and beauty of the gracious inhabitants of the island more than make up for it! I was sad to leave (as always)…
We also visited our Compadre Teofilo from Hatuncolla and his family. William and Christian who you may remember from previous blogs are his differently abled grandchildren. The whole family gathered and was overjoyed at our gift of a sack of avocados from our Lodge in Limatambo. Thanks to some donations from Germany and the USA we have saved up for about 2/3rds of a Laptop for William so far.
We arrived on a very cold overcast day. Although it fell in to the middle of the dry season we had had some freak rain the night before and you could feel the chill right to the bone. I couldn’t help feeling in awe of Teofilo and his family who live in a house with a dirt floor and a leaky thatched roof with no form of heating! I just felt pathetically cold… but once again the joy of the reunion with the family made my heart warm!