25 November 2012
Taquile island on Lake Titicaca
Each island on Lake Titicaca seems to possess its own distinct culture (there are 40 or so islands). I had previously shared with you the surprising man-made floating islands of Los Uros and the rustic frog-shaped Amantani island. In between lies Taquile island, a small but very hilly island which has been inhabited for thousands of years. It shares the same Mediterranean landscape as Amantani, its red and brown Inca terraces contrasting starkly against the deep blue lake. And just as equally, its steep hills, including the 500 steps from one of the docks to the main square, invite the wanderer to – slowly, since we're 3,800 metres high – enjoy the beautiful scenery.
However, whilst most other island communities speak Aymara (and sometimes Spanish), Taquile has maintained a very strong sense of group identity by speaking Quechua and marrying among their own people (not sure it's ideal to prevent consanguinity issues...). On this latter point, single men wear red and white hats while married ones wear red hats. I haven't figured out why this distinctive trait is only applicable to men and not women... do men have to be visibly marked to prevent them from "flirting" – or is it so to at least let women know what they would be getting into?!