Published: February 25th 2006February 20th 2006
Well, Carnaval is spread over a couple of weeks throughout South America and with is comes water balloons, streamers, and silly foam (basically shaving foam in a pressurized can). It appears to be a game of flirtation between teenage boys and girls with the girls getting the brunt of the boys ´affection.´ The other targets are gringos (ie, us white folks). With Puno having had its Carnaval last weekend, folks were still in the party mood. We were prepared with our own silly foam and got to practice with it serveral times while in Puno! What Fun!
Puno, like Copacabana, is situated along the shores of Lago Titicaca. As a town we don´t have much to say besides the above as we simply used it as a jumping off point to the Islands of Amantani and Taquile. We decided on 3 nights between the two with the 1st on Amantani and the 2nd and 3rd nights on Taquile.
The the hill tops of Amantani are topped by two well-know Inca sites, Pachamama and Pachatata (Mother and Father Earth). Folk lore has it that if you walk around each three times making a new wish each time you go round,
Randy´s a wee bit taller than the average Amantani resident.
each of your wishes will come true; however, one MUST believe. That being said there might be a grandma or two out there sooner rather than later. The evening saw the men and women (ie., us gringos) dressed in traditional garb. We danced the night away with our host sister under the milky-way to the sounds of pan flutes and a little drummer boy...FUN!
Both islands are VERY quite as there are no roads and thus no vehicles, and both have fantastic views. While both of the islands share a long history of woven textiles, they are distinctly different (see photos) from each other. While it is the women on Isla Amantani that are more traditionally dressed and not the men, both men and women are traditionally dressed on Taquile. The traditions are more engrained on Taquile with the colours of hats and dress´reading like a personal ad.
Men and their Hats.
Red & White = this means that you are either single or on a trial basis (ie., common-law) with a woman of the village. Furthermore, the direction that the gaint pom-pom falls (to the back or to the side) indicates if your are either <18
Girls of Amantani
Not the greatest photo, but look at the detail of their shawls. The shawls of the women on Taquile are a simple black with giant colourful pom-poms.
or >18 years old. This indicates if you are a man or not and thus if your are eligble to be picked up during a stroll through the Plaza.
Red = This solid coloured hat simply means that one is married and has gone through a catholic marrige ceremony.
Rainbow = Now I´m sure a few of you are wondering about this one; however, things are not that simple on the island. This type of hat means that one holds a position of authority (ie., likely political) within the village.
As for the women, its much simplier.
colourful garb = single
wearing mostly black with a red top = married (the baby on the back usually gives it away though)
A further interesting fact is that the men not only wear the hats; they knit them. Furthermore, if they are not a good knitter they are unlikely to get married as knitting is a major source of income. You can see men knitting of all ages all over the island as they walk, talk, and while they sell you a bottle of water. It´s not just men that knit but also the boys of
On route to Pachamama
Randy´s keeping things together after making his 3 wishes!
the villages. Our host´s son was 11 years old and has been knitting since he was 6!! All I have to say is that this kid can eat crackers and knit, VERY fast I might add, at the same time. Women also knit but they mainly weave colourful belts that their husbands wear. Each family belt is individual to that family and tells it´s own story, which only the wife or daugher are able to interpret.
We had a very relaxing time on both Islands and had enough time to explore almost every metre of each (ie., 2 days would have been enough). Host familes on each island, though lacking many of the ´basics´, welcomed us into their homes and served up some great food, though I am sure both of us won´t be missing eggs for awhile. Would encourage anyone to try and stay with a host family for more than one night. While they have seem to have "toys", they seem much happier than many of us back in the western world.
At anyrate, on our way back to Puno we passed the village of Uros, or better known as the Floating Islands. These islands are
Temple of Pachatata
Mother Earth (Pacahatata) has a square temple, whereas the temple of Father Earth (Pachatata) is a circle.
made up of reeds which are continually placed onto one another, giving it a bog-like feel. Everything is made from these reeds, from the houses to the boats. As things begin to rot they just get some more reeds and make it again.
Well, off to Cusco next... stay tuned for Machu Picchu...
There are more photos below