July 23, 2012
After Bethany and Sierra each bought a woven headband from our host family, Delfin walked with us to the boat dock on the west side of the island.
We then traveled on a collectivo boat (essentially a taxi-boat carrying about 30 passengers) back to Puno, where we got a taxi to Hotel Italia, which we'd been upgraded to since Hostal Pukara was full for the night. Thankfully, Bethany was doing a lot better by now, so after I'd made a quick trip to the bus station to buy onward bus tickets for Cusco, we all went out to eat.
Our trip to Llachon and Taquile were both possible thanks to the help from each person we met. One week of Spanish lessons along with some practice at home meant that our Spanish was very basic. Luckily, Yvonne at Hostel Pukara in Puno was incredibly helpful. She called a tour company she knows and booked us on to the tour to Uros. She also called the number given in the Lonely Planet for Senor Valentin in Llachon. After the tour boat dropped us off in Llachon I was able to ask Senor Valentin if he knew someone to call on Taquile Island, where we wanted to stay the night. He called his friend on Taquile but his house was full so that man called another friend, Delfin. It all wasn't very hard on our part, just a bit of faith that it would all work out. It is really not a stretch as most everyone we have met has gone out of their way to be helpful and friendly. Take Delfin... Bethany was quite sick and we had to walk very slowly from the boat to Delfin's house, what with carrying Bethany and when Bethany walked it was very slow as she had to stop often. What could have been a 30-minute walk stretched on to probably an hour and a half. The whole time Delfin was showing us the local attractions, plants, etc. and was so kind. He kept offering to carry our things and even offered to carry Bethany.
Taquile, what an experience... Taquile reminds me of this perfect little Mediterranean island a few hundred years ago. All the people wear their traditional clothing, not for tourists but because that is their clothing. It is very quiet on Taquile because there are no dogs. (This may not seem like a big deal but packs of barking dogs all night is not pleasant.) There isn't, that I could see, anything motorized, so this also adds to the silence. Delfin explained that most houses on the island have no water, so all water would be carried from the lake twice a day. The island is very steep and if you are at the top this would be quite a task. Delfin also explained that it rained three months of the year heavily and for the rest of the year little or no rain. Delfin, his mother and sister lived by farming potatoes, quinuoa, corn, and beans. All the food they grow they eat. They also have a few chickens. (There were cows and sheep on the island but Delfin's family do not have any.) I asked how they got the vegetables and sugar and tea they served us. Delfin said that all income, cash, came from having tourists stay in the two lovely rooms built for this purpose on the upper floor of their house. Delfin said that he had about two tourists per month stay at his place. We paid something like $40 U.S. for the room and meals for the four of us for the day. So his family's income was about $80 U.S. for maybe six months of the year, the tourist season. So if you want a bit of a rest in your busy trip to Peru you might consider calling, or having someone call for you like we did, and stay a night with Delfin's family. The views are amazing and you'd be hard pressed to find a more kindly host. Telephone: 958629944 or 983943308. He has email too but has to go to Puno to check it: firstname.lastname@example.org.Tanya