Thanksgiving to Remember – Part 5

Saturday morning, after a breakfast of pancakes with strawberry jam, we said our good-byes to our host family. Maria walked us down to the boat landing and soon we were on our way to Tequile Island. It was about a half hour boat ride.
We had a long climb of about 40 minutes up a beautiful path. It appears to have recently been built with cement inlaid with flat stones. It was a lovely, clear and sunny day. The altitude was still an issue, but we took the climb slow and gradual. Eventually, we made it to the town square. This was a disappointment after such a beautiful path.
We had some time to look in the artesian shop that was full of knitted or woven hats, sweaters, belts and bags. On the opposite side of the square was a modern building that had a display of the history of the island with many, many pictures.
Of the three islands, Tequile was our least favorite. Sadly, the way of life has been tarnished by the tourist. Little girls were constantly asking if we wanted to buy a bracelet. Our tour guide said not to give money to the children because they would buy candy with the money. There is little to no dental care on the islands and the candy is not good for the children. Fortunately, we had heard this before we left and we bought pencils with us to offer, when taking their photos, instead of money.
One very interesting fact about Tequile Island is that at the age of 7, the young boys must learn to knit. If they do not know how to knit when they are of an age to marry, then they cannot marry. The men also wear hats that reveal their status in the community. The rainbow colored hat means that they are an elder in the community. A hat that is half red and half white means that the man is single. A solid red hat with a geometric design of a man and women holding hands means that he is married.
After spending time in the town square, our group walked to a local restaurant where we enjoyed a meal of quinoa soup, grilled fish, French fries and rice while looking out over the ocean. Once lunch was over, it was time to walk down the 540 steps on the back side of the island to our boat.
A supply boat must have arrived while we were eating lunch because on our walk down the steps. We met several of the local people carrying large loads of goods, on their backs, trudging up the 540 stairs. Trust me; I am glad that we were going down and without a load at that!
It was a three hour boat ride back to Puno. We arrived back to our hotel in the late afternoon. It was a quite night as we didn’t feel like doing much of anything. We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant. It was a nice buffet of fish, chicken, fruit, spaghetti, rice and veggies.
Sunday, our transfer to the airport didn’t pick us up until 1:00….in the night; David came down sick with diarrhea….which we think was from the chicken. It is the only thing that I didn’t eat. David became sick, I didn’t. We got some medicine into him and kept him well hydrated.
While he rested, I walked around the hotel grounds and nearby neighborhood. Can you believe that in 1861, the Peruvian Navy ordered 2 iron gunboats from England to use to patrol the waters of Lake Titicaca? These ships were built in England and shipped via Cape Horn to Arica, Chile. From here, porters and mules, hefted crates that contained 2, 766 ship parts and proceeded on a 290 mile journey across the desert and up and over the Andes. The final pass was at 14,100 feet!!!! The ships were assembled and launched on Christmas day, 1870. The Yavari has been restored and wasn’t far from our hotel. I took pictures but somehow, they got deleted when I was uploading them onto my computer…bummer!
On the hotel grounds, were some craft shops that local women had open. I spent quite a bit of time talking with Eulalia Vega while looking over her crafts. I finally decided on 4 placemats. She was such a dear lady. Sadly, her life is difficult. My life is so blessed, I often feel guilty when I hear these women stories. Anyway, I hope my purchase helped her.
The van arrived on time and we stopped in Puno to get another couple who were flying into Lima on the same flight. Drew Fisher and his wife, Toril (rhymes with coral) Booker-Fisher were so wonderful to get to know. We talked non-stop! They are from Petoskey, Michigan and were on the last leg of their trip to Peru. We arrived safely at our apartment around 8:00 PM on Sunday night. What a wonderful journey with amazing memories.

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