Amantaní Island

May 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

From Llachón, it was time to hop over to Amantaní Island.

LlachonFelixAndWifeMy last morning on Llachón was spent finishing The Green House on the beach (to lighten the load… and now I’m down to only two books that I am lugging around!) and chatting with an older German couple that just arrived to Felix’s house. Upon hearing that I was headed off to Amantaní, they enthusiastically decided to accompany me on the ride. Which I am very thankful that they did, as we all split the cost of the private excursion. After a final cup of muňa tea, we waved good-bye to Félix and Magnu Cahui, his wife, and bid adieu to their lovely house.

Then, Magnu Cahui tore the red backpack off my shoulders and gave me no option in letting her carry it down to the beach for me. Even with the luggage, she skipped down the cliff in about the 1/10th of the time that it took me to climb down.


After a few minutes, Félix came around the bend with his little boat- our transportation for the hour-and-a-half ride out to Amantaní Island.


There never ceased to be a smile on this man’s face!


It was a fun ride, wrapped up in grey ponchos that withheld the wind very well. En route, our captain would point out various peaks and called ahead to a friend that he had on Amantaní who would offer me accommodation for the next night.


Upon pulling into the harbor, ‘Amigo Henry’ runs over the hill, straps all of my bags onto his back (it’s amazing how much people are able to carry here, in their big, square cloths wrapped around their shoulders), and leads me on a little hike to his household. On the way, he explained the organization of the island, and pointed out the houses of all of his friends and family.


Then, I was introduced to his wife, his two adorable kids, the three cows, and all of the chickens. After that, I was shown to my room (which felt significantly warmer than the previous one), which was simple, but cozily decorated. There was even a brightly-colored chamber pot under the bed! For those that don’t wish to make the trek in the dark and cold when the need arises in the middle of the night, I guess.


Then, I sat out with the wife for a while, enjoying the beautiful landscape and learned a bit about knitting. I tried, but, clearly, making hats is not my life’s calling. It’s remarkable how fast and nimble her fingers were!


Then, a group of giggly women passed us by and invited us to play volleyball. We set up a primitive net and then played a few rounds… of course, I was the worst one there. I was amused and amazed at the energy and skill of all of those multiple-skirt-clad, hat-hearing ladies! What beasts.


After that, Henry came back from the library and took me on a hike to see the Pachatata ruins on top of the hill (why is it that all of the ruins in Peru are at the very tip of very steep hills?). On the way, he explained the agricultural rotation, traditions, and communities of the island. Upon reaching the top, we were blessed with another beautiful sunset over Lake Titicaca.


And then, back home through the dark. We ran into his 13-year old son in the main plaza, who led me home the rest of the way. Before a family dinner (during which I and the two kids doodled and played charades, rather than ate), I gave the kiddos some colored pencils, stickers, and papers from the mainland… and how happy they were!

It was a great experience, this homestay. It’s really nice to think that people still live so simply in the world, isolated from everything, and yet happier than 99% of the people that you meet out in the world. No TV’s, no internet, no fancy electronic toys for the kids. After the sun sets, that’s that; darkness, with a few candles and the occasional flashlight. No cars, no dogs. Just a community of people, living together on an island, happy to share their life with passer-by’s. And everyone always had a smile on their face or something to offer, and it was a wonderful feeling, to be among them.

The next morning, it was time to go back to Capochica, via another little boat. I was given an impressive necklace of flowers from the family for “good luck and safe travels.” However, this boat ride was significantly less enjoyable, as there was no sun, plenty of freezing wind, and pelting rain. Even huddling under a tarp and makeshift blanket did not provide much relief.


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