Thanksgiving to Remember – Part 4

After visiting the floating islands, we settled in for a three hour boat tour across Lake Titicaca to Amantani Island where we were to spend the night.
We arrived there around 2:00 in the afternoon and we were greeted by the women of the village. They were all dressed in their traditional red skirts, embroidered blouses and black embroidered shawls. Our guide, Estafan organized with one of the ladies, which couple (there were about 10 couples in all) would go with each family.
Our host mother was Maria. She was such a sweet, dear lady. The house was relatively large; it was built in a “U” shape with an open courtyard enclosed with a wall. The kitchen was a separate building. Our bedroom was located upstairs with what appeared to be 3 other bedrooms. Maria and her husband, Teodocio, had six children in all. Four of the older ones had left the island to live in Puno. They had 2 sons left at home. One was 16 and the youngest was 9. The 16 year old entertained us by playing the Charango, a traditional Peruvian instrument like a small guitar with twelve strings. He was very good and aspires to be a professional musician.
Lunch was served in the kitchen at a small table. Maria had two small gas burners that she cooked on because she said it was faster. However, at the other end of the kitchen, was a fireplace that she also utilized for cooking. Lunch was a delicious soup with quinoa. Quinoa is an important grain food that has been in South America for the past 6,000 years. It is considered a complete food because of nutritional value. So, anyway, we had soup with quinoa and a dish of rice and fried cheese with sliced tomato. Very filling and delicious!
After lunch, we walked to the stadium to meet with our group for a hike up to the top of Amantani to see the Inca ruins of the temples to honor Pachatata (Father Earth) and the other ruin, Pachamama (Mother Earth). It was a slow go because of the altitude and the effects it was having on us. I really felt like a “whooz” because the women of the island were just trucking up over the hillside with huge loads of souvenirs on their backs to sell as we passed them!
Once at the top, we saw where the ruins were for Pachatata, however, we were unable to see it because it was behind a fence. The ruins are only open on January 20th for a feast day. Unfortunately, weather and time didn’t allow us to make it to the other peak to visit the ruins of Pachamama.
As we were hiking up, we could see a storm of rain and lightening off in the distance. The storm caught up with us as we were hiking down the mountain. It started to hail. We were lucky to make it back to our house just as the rains came!
Since the houses have no living room or common room, we were told that we could rest in our room until it was time for dinner. Our room was comfortable enough, but the weather was relatively cold. There was no heat to our room. The roof was tin, so it was kind of fun to hear the rain on the roof. The beds were a tad bigger than a twin….David and I decided to make an attempt to sleep in the same bed just to keep each other warm!
Dinner was the quinoa soup, rice and veggies. All was very good. I told Maria that I was going to bring her home with me so she could be my fulltime cook…she just smiled! It was cozy in the kitchen. There was a fire in the fireplace and the family was gathered there. I believe this is the “living room” area for them. I drank a couple cups of anise tea but didn’t want to drink too much as I didn’t want to have to go to bathroom in the middle of the night….let’s just say that the bathroom facilities were rustic!! However, it was nice being in the cozy kitchen with the family, even though our conversation was limited.
We finally got “banished” to our room to “rest” until it was time for the fiesta. At 8:00, Maria came to our room with traditional clothes. David wore a poncho and hat. I wore a beautiful embroidered blouse, red skirt, a multi-colored belt and black shawl with embroidery along the edge. We went to the community center where our other travel mates were all dressed in traditional dress as well. The music was provided by the local boys on traditional Peruvian instruments, the flutes, drum and Maria’s son played the charango. Our little fiesta last about an hour and a half….the songs were long, the dancing was fun. Everyone left with a smile.
At least the rain had stopped by the time we left to go home. Our little room was pretty chilly, but we were cozy under the heavy woolen blankets. Once, in the night, I had to go to the bathroom….I was so dreading making my way outside to the little outhouse. It turned out to be a nice experience. It had warmed up a little and there was a full moon….I was actually glad that I had to go to the bathroom or I would have missed that wonderful memory!

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