04/18/2008 - 04/21/2008
After a short stop at the reed islands of Uros, we got back on our little boat and traveled for another 3 hours to get to the small island of Taquile, which is 45km off shore. About 1,700 people live on the small island. The highest point of the island is 4050 meters above sea level and the main village is at 3950 m. The inhabitants, known as Taquileños, are southern Quechua speakers...which meant I had to get by with hand signals and smiles since I don't really speak any Quechuan.
Taquileños run their society based on community collectivism and on the Inca moral code "ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla" -- "do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy". The island is divided into six sectors for crop rotation purposes. The economy is based on fishing, terraced farming horticulture based on potato cultivation, and income from the approximately 40,000 tourists who visit each year. Interestingly, you can tell whether a male is single or married, and whether or not he is one of the 26 political officials on the island, by the colors of their woven hats...and pretty much every male, even the schoolkids, wear these hats.
Taquileños are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. Everyone on the island - children, women, and men - spin and weave.
So back to my experience here...
After hiking to the main square and having lunch (where I met Jacob and Karen from Denmark, who I would later run into again in Lima), I was introduced to Juana, whose family I stayed with for the rest of my time on Taquile. The island was quite lovely, and I spent the rest of the day and the next morning with Juana's family on the far side of the island. There wasn't much for me to do, so I relaxed and read, watched Juana and her sisters weave, played a little volleyball with the family, and stopped by the small beach at the end of the island the next morning.
Here are a bunch of photos of Taquile for you to enjoy:
Here's a video of the lake to show just how huge the lake is...