BACK TO PUNO!
Along the way, they stop at Andahuaylillas, a former Inca village that houses the “Sistine Chapel of the Andes”, built in the 16th century by the Spaniards. The interior is very colorful. They observe Mudejar-style ornaments, a baroque altar in white cedar gilded with leaf, an organ decorated with angels. Inca mummies were found under the chapel, that is all that remains of this civilization …
Further on, they visit the Inca site of Raqchi. At the time, it was a very important religious and administrative center. It consists of a main building, the temple dedicated to the creator god Viracocha, houses lined up reserved for priests and circular storage reserves: the Qolqas. The roof of the temple rests on twenty-two stone columns. It is the only Inca site where one can observe columns. As for the reserves, they made it possible to store the production of the whole plain. Famine was thus avoided in the event of a bad harvest.
LAKE TITICACA AT HOME!
MEETING OF THE UROS PEOPLE
Five kilometers from the port of Puno, our travelers discover the Isla Flotantes (the Floating Islands) originally inhabited by the Uros people. The last real Uros died at the end of the 1950s. Since then, the Aymaras have occupied these islands. However, they are still called “the Uros Islands”.
These floating islands are made from scratch from a species of rush: the tortora, a plant found in abundance on the lake. The result is impressive. The Uros live there as on any “traditional” island. They grow quinoa there, fish, sleep, eat … To navigate the lake, they use boats also made of tortora. The place is magical, the colors of the women’s costumes contrast with the yellow of the rushes …
Placido, their guide, takes them to one of the islands (there are about sixty) where Roy and his family welcome them warmly. Together, they form a large “family” of about twenty people. The women are smiling. Despite the language, they can communicate without Placido’s intervention. On the island, there are five huts and a sort of three-meter-high watchtower allowing you to see into the distance and communicate with the other islands. In the center, a pond is used for rearing fish which will be released later into the lake.
DISCOVERING AMANTANI ISLAND
After long discussions, the Globe Trotters set off for a ride in a traditional boat. Their was baptized Titanic, in another context it could have been scary… The lake is immense: 178 km long and 69 km wide. To reach the island closest to Puno, Amantani, it takes more than three hours of navigation. Suffice to say that when they evoke Lake Annecy, Roy laughs out loud!
After leaving Roy and his “clan,” our family travels to Amantani Island, the largest but least visited island in the lake. Their host Francisca welcomes them, a little bit of a woman in her sixties dressed in the traditional way: brightly colored skirt, embroidered white blouse, wide belt and black shawl. They get to know each other and follow her to her house where they will spend the night. There, she introduces them to Pablo her husband, Herman her son, Doris her daughter-in-law and José-Alberto, her two-month-old grandson.
In the late afternoon, they climb Pachatata (Fatherland) hill, one of the island’s two sacred peaks, to watch the sunset. The scenery is once again breathtaking. And the silence … How pleasant … Back at Francisca’s, after a good herbal tea of munia (wild mint), they all dine together in the kitchen. Francisca is a real cordon bleu! And after dinner, the party! For the occasion, our travelers don traditional outfits and all dance to the rhythm of Andean music.
DISCOVERING TAQUILE ISLAND
The next morning, direction Taquile, the neighboring island. They leave full of admiration for these people who are fighting to keep their peace and who have been able to adapt to tourism without suffering the bad sides (for now). After a visit to the artisanal cooperative where the men knit and the women embroider, they go up the mountain to admire the landscape and the pre-Inca ruins. They have lunch there and, at the end of the afternoon, they return to Puno. From these two days on the lake, they will remember this other way of life, the total respect that this people has for nature and for its traditions, its roots …