They say that when the Spanish armada conquered Lake Titicaca – between Peru and Bolivia – locals hid their gold into the lake’s deep waters and since then it has never been found. But I believe the true treasures this land has to offer are hidden into the locals’ smiles and their kind manners.
While I was in Taquile Island I have been Dina’s family guest and they made me feel as one of them. Her house is in the middle of cornfields, between the desolated main square and the lake’s waters. While we were preparing dinner, Dina told me that the house has been built in less than a month. They also build a bathroom outside, digging a hole in the field.
While cooking together the usual supa de papas with vegetables, we used to share some good memories. My slow way of peeling the potatoes got some attention among the guests, who were commenting in quechua, their local language. I understood and we all had laugh, breaking every linguistic barrier. That’s when I decided to lend my camera to little Natalia, 12 years old, whose attention was caught by the LCD camera screen. After a brief explanation regarding the principles of photography, the little girl was completely in charge of the camera, shooting with care for every detail and appreciating every shot. Coming from the “quick shutter speed society”, this behaviour caught my attention.
After a cup of mugna, an herb used to cope with altitude sickness, we blew off the candles. We went to sleep at 9 pm. Dina would have waken up the day after at 5 am, to work in the land and cook at the restaurant. Natalia, saddened, returned my camera, wrapped her little brother with a cloth and got him on her shoulders, ready to go to sleep in a house behind the hill.
The night was falling down, and the stars where lighting up the cornfields as street lamps in one of my neighbourhoods, making into familiar that place ten hours away from home. At the horizon the Titikaka Lake was shining as usual, since the day when the first Inca was born there from the marriage between Moon and Sun.
Titicaca Lake is at the border between Peru and Bolivia. It is the highest sailable lake in the world (3856 metres above sea level). It is 280 metres deep and 200 kilometres large.
How to get there: From Puno there are daily ferries to Uros Island, Amantani Island, Taquile and Isla del Sol. Get at the port contact to arrange your hosting with a local family.
Suggestions: It is a kind habit to bring to the family some food not available on the islands, such as fruit, vegetables, rice, oil or spices. Cover your head with a hat, use strong sun protection and drink a lot of water.
Where is Taquile?