After departing Uros, we headed to Amantaní where we would be spending the night with a local family. Most of the islanders speak Quecha but their culture is heavily influenced by the Aymara. The island runs a rotation system for the homestays so each community will get an equal share of tourists. I was grouped together with an American couple that was living in Colombia, and our host mother Fortunada came to bring us to her home. Fortunada is a lovely, elderly woman that lives alone on the island as her two children left to live in Lima and Puno, and her husband had passed away last year. However, she is kept company by two adorable twin lamb orphans that she adopted. Their names are Pancho and Pancho.
For lunch, we had a delicious lunch of quinoa soup with potatoes, carrots, beans, garlic and herbs. Next was a hearty plate of boiled vegetables and fried salty, cheese. We also tried oca potatoes, which is primarily grown by Aymara and Quecha farmers and has been a staple of rural Andean diets for centuries. This crunchy potato had a taste similar to sweet parsnips.
Later in afternoon, we hiked up to watch the sunset from the mountain peak of Pachamama (Mother Earth), which had ancient Inca and Tiwanaku ruins at top (4235m elevation).
The Bolivia mountains in the background were beautiful and we also had a great view of the slightly lower peak of Pachatata (Father Earth) on the opposite mountain.
We then headed back to Fortunada’s home after sunset to have dinner: another simple but delicious vegetarian meal of potato and pasta soup, and a plate of fried potatoes with onions, tomatoes, and rice. I especially loved the tea with the fresh thyme and cocoa leaves.
At night, the villagers organized a fiesta in the communal centre where tourists can dress up in the traditional costumes and dance. Fortunada pulled me up to join the folk dancing, which consisted of a lot of shuffling and twisting.
A band played traditional instruments of wooden drums, panpipes, and guitars. The dance was quite fun but exhausting, and after a few rounds we headed back home where I buried myself under 4 layers of heavy blankets and fell asleep.
I woke up early the next morning to the cold and Panchos’ bleeting. I wandered to the kitchen to watch Fortunada cook pancakes for our breakfast.
After breakfast, we packed up and headed to the dock to catch the boat to Taquile island. We arrived at the back harbor and started a steep hike up to the main plaza (I definitely did not anticipate how much hiking this island adventure would entail!).
After some free time to explore the plaza, we ate lunch at the community-run restaurant. It’s quinoa soup to start and fresh grilled trout for our main dish (20 soles – meal not included on this tour).
After lunch, we walked down to the main harbor, which has some 500+ steps to descend. We board the boat and begin our 3 hour return journey to Puno.
It is 4pm when the tour finished and the group gets a free transfer to their next destination. I headed to Puno’s main plaza with some of the group. We stopped at a cute restaurant called Marjosa (means “delicious” in Aymara) and ordered some food and drinks to pass the time until the departure of our overnight buses. I tried some local hot wine with cinnamon and citrus flavors, which tastes very much like mulled wine. My TourPeru bus departed at 9:30pm and arrived in Cusco at 3:30am.
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