Lake Titicaca

Isla Taquile

From Puno we leave by boat to Taquile, a distance of about 45 km. On the way we stop for a while at “the floating islands” of the Uro indians, and after four hours of sailing we arrive at the small island of Taquile, situated in the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca (the other half of the lake belongs to Bolivia). Lake Titicaca lies at a height of 3820 meter, and is therefor the highest navigable lake in the world. With a length of 170 km and a width of 64 km, this biggest lake of South America is also very deep (up to about 280 meter), which causes the temperature of the water to be quite constant the whole year round, at about 10°C. Also the airtemperature stays moderate at nights and during winters; suitable circumstances for agriculture.

Lake Titicaca

Inca womenUpon arrival we have to climb the steep stairs up, there should be around 500 steps! After half an hour of sweating with our backpacks on, we come to the “hospedaje” reception of the island. Here we pay a small fee and sign the guestbook. The inhabitants, Inca indians, welcome us and appoint us a house of one of the local families, where we shall spend the night. Each tourist is greeted in this way, there are no hotels or hostals on the island. Our host accompanies us and we move into a bare little room. There is no running water, no electricity and no toilet. The houses are built of mud, stones and dried grass; anything that can be found on the island. There are no cars or roads on Taquile.

Today we walk around the island and by coincidence come upon something very special. The locals are busy building a new little harbour. From up the hill we watch them working. Until just before sunset everybody suddenly climbs up to receive their wages for today’s work: big lumps of bread! The men are patiently waiting for their turn and then let the bread drop into their colourful woolen Inca caps. The women are silently watching. And while everyone gives us friendly smiles, even we get a piece of bread!

Some 1500 people live on this six kilometer long island; they dress traditionally in self-made clothes. Their language is Quechua. There are two restaurants, both on the central square, where they cook the items that are available that day. In the evening in the restaurant, we eat together with a Peruvian musician who now lives in Denmark. Four small boys play the panflute, but the musician from Denmark soon takes over.. he plays very well!
The whole night it is raining cats and dogs, and the severe thunderstorms frighten us. It is quite cold at night; luckily we brought along our sleepingbags.

End of a workingdayNext morning it is still raining, and we decide to stay in bed a little while longer. But after lunch the air is clearing up, so we can still go for a walk on the island. The sun is at once só strong, that we have to take care not to get sunburned. On top of a hill we run into some Inca ruins, of which there are many on Taquile. You can also see beautiful Inca terraces all over the island. Through these terraces we walk down to the coast. There is a tiny beach and the deepblue water is cristalclear. To get back to the village we have a steep climb back up.

Back in the village we are alarmed to find that in the meantime a group of 36 Americans has arrived. They are playing football and volleyball. The peace and quiet of the island is pretty much gone by now! During Distributing breaddinner at the restaurant some Taquileñas give a music and dance performance, to honour the arrival of the Americans. The small dancing steps the indians usually make, we can never get enough of it. The Americans are dancing too, but that looks horrible!
When we go to bed it is raining once again. And the thunders are incredibly strong, with only short breaks in between.
On our last day we are lucky to find the sun shining again, and we take the boat back to Puno. Taquile, que le vaya bien!