Thursday, February 04, 2016

Taquile island

After a brief boat ride, we arrived at Taquile Island. Similar to Amantani as far as no roads, electricity, etc, but only 2,000 people and it's a smaller island.  The boat dropped us off and we hiked up and up and up to the main square of the island. 

This path ran from one side of the island, up and over to the other side and there were archways like this at several points along the way. 

Close-up of the funny guys carved into the archways.

up, up, up!

We had to stop many times to catch our breath.

Sheep on the terraces along the path.

Up at the top there was quite a view of the island. There was a large square with a couple little shops and a little museum.

And of course the famous knitting men!  More on this later, but basically the men of this island knit their own very intricate hats. I climbed to the roof of this building and got a great view of the surrounding area. 

kids playing soccer in the main square.

a panoramic from the roof

nice playing field on the other side of the square. Off in the distance there was a boy moving a herd of sheep - though I think he'd moved on by the time I took this picture.
After spending an hour or so in the main square we got back on the path and headed towards the other side of the island. 

more arches...
more sheep...

lots of flowers...

All the gates looked like this, held on by I think a piece of tire. Love these gates!

I'm not sure what this building was, but the tall thing with white sales is a wind turbine and you can see the solar panels on the roofs. There was also a pipe running from here straight downhill to the lake. I'm guessing some sort of main power station using wind and solar, and maybe water, for the island. 

Just an old house on the path. 

Have you noticed I love pathway pictures?

Especially when the pathway is as fantastic as this one!

There's our boat moving along, getting ready to pick us up later on the other side of the island.
On the other side of the island we stopped for lunch.  There were a few buildings and a large courtyard with seating space for all of us. As lunch was being prepared there were a few demonstrations. 

The first was this amazing shampoo plant. This is a plant that grows wild all over the island. This man crushed up the plant with a rock. He then put the crushed up plants in a square of fabric, poured water over it, and agitated it in the water. 

look at those soap suds!
Then he took a hunk of filthy sheeps wool. He took a portion of it and scrubbed it in the bowl of shampoo plant water. 

And look how clean that came out! Pretty amazing. 

Next they demonstrated how they did farming and cultivating in the tough rocky soil of the island. 

And then they talked about the hats. You'll notice the man above is wearing one of these hats and it's a solid color red right up to the top. That means he's a married man.  Men knit these hats themselves with very tiny needles, so they are very intricate, and they take 2-3 months to make. 

Below is the hat that younger men wear. Being white at the top tells you the man is unmarried. If the tassel is in back they are in school, if it's on the left they have finished school, and if it's on the right they have a girlfriend or fiance. 

The women wear black shawls with tassels on the corners. I believe the number or color or type of tassel means something about their school and marital status, but I didn't hear how it worked for them. This girl is showing us how they do weavings. 

We had an enormous lunch after the demonstrations were over. It started with this fabulous bread item. It didn't taste as fried as it looks! Then soup, then enormous platters with rice and veggies and trout. Way too much food for me once again!

After lunch we headed down the last slope to the shore and back onto the boat. 

Susan and I decided to joke that our journey home began with this boat ride, since this was our last stop and everything after this was heading home.  Maybe not the best idea since it made the trip home seem twice as long.  I admit I had some worries about how or if this was all going to work after we'd arranged it. It was a little bit crazy. 

  • three hour boat ride from Taquile Island back to Puno
  • Taxi from the docks to our hotel
  • re-packing some of our luggage so everything fit better
  • Taxi from the hotel to the bus station, and then several hours of waiting
  • 6 hour overnight bus ride from Puno back to Cusco (leaving at about 10 pm, getting into Cusco about 4am
  • Taxi from bus station to our last hotel in Cusco. We begged them to let us check in and stay a few hours so we could nap, shower, eat breakfast, and re-pack our luggage again. They said yes! Love the Terra Viva Hotel!
  • We also squeezed in a last minute hour or so spin around Cusco to purchase a last few things. 
  • Taxi from the hotel to the airport, and a bit of a wait
  • 1 hour flight to Lima airport, and then a NINE HOUR layover. Ugh. It was horrible. 
  • Several hour flight to Mexico City, where we arrived and had to go through customs and immigration and then wait some more for the next flight. 
  • Several hour flight to Chicago, where we arrived and had to go through customs and immigration AGAIN. Then I said goodbye to Susan. So long good traveling pal!  Then I went through security for what felt like the millionth time and waited for my last little flight.
  • After a one hour flight, finally I arrived back in Minneapolis. Phew!

I cannot imagine having a flight schedule like that, willingly, ever again. It was great to be home again and I've had fun showing pictures and handing out gifts. I wonder...where will my next trip be to???

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