Friday, October 16, 2015

Island Hopping: The Taquile Festival

It's a festival, a three-day event for the entire island ~ 
where nobody works, 
and everybody pours into the village square to celebrate.

We've just finished an authentic lunch 
on the Island of Tequile, on Lake Titicaca ~ 

And as we follow this young lad up the final ramp, and through the village gates, we are instantly mesmerized by the celebration we find spread out before us.

You must keep in mind this is not a display for the sake of visitors, even though they have welcomed us as their guests.

No, this is a festival that's part of their culture, pure and simple. 

They have entertainment, these "actors" and oxen playing out some sort of parody. It looks like they even have a band!

And, like most celebrations, there is some liquor present.

But here's where it gets interesting.  The festival, while it includes every family, is primarily focused on the local council. Who is the recipient of all the beer.  Lots and lots (and lots) of beer.

The men of the Council sit all together in one long row:

As do the women of the Council.  

(Although I notice that absent for them are the benches and cases of beer that the men's section enjoys.)

Fascinated, we watch then, as each local family arrives, toting a big ole' case of beer (these are the great big bottles).  This seems to be the accepted donation to the Island Council.  

The Council rep receives this, and with ceremony, hands two of the twelve bottles back to the family.  Evidently this is their "share" to enjoy.   They also pass a new bottle to the women Council members as they see fit.
This goes on for hours.

And the cases mount higher and higher.

This event is "only" three days long.  We are told that there's a two-week version sometime late summer, which I believe is tied to harvest, or the end of the growing season.  Or perhaps it's just a last chance to have a party before the onset of a long cold winter without benefit of the luxury of heat and indoor plumbing.

If this is three days' worth, I can't even imagine how much beer it would take to get through a two week celebration!

These Council members are wearing full-on dress-up traditional clothing ~ remember that all of this yarn is hand-made and hand-dyed, and all the garments and accessories are hand woven.  I think they are fantastic.  

They are dipping into their coca pouches, as they chew this terrible-tasting stuff constantly (almost like tobacco); but it's used to help with the effects of altitude sickness.  And we are very high up at the moment.

We are lovin' the glimpse of local life.  How privileged we are to get to be an audience to all of this.   

The families find a spot on the perimeter of the square to hang out, watch the festivities, and, presumably, enjoy their couple of bottles of beer.

The men gather, it seems, just to drink beer.

And the women to (presumably) talk and gossip a bit.

Of course kids are kids, no matter where you find them on the map.
These are escaping their parents to who knows what mischief??

The day definitely has a festive air.

And still the beer arrives.  

Alas, it's time for us to descend to the shoreline to catch our transport boat back to Puno, on the shores of Lake Tititcaca, it's a couple of hours drive before dark. 

But what a day it has been!   How interesting and enlightening and informative and enjoyable.  
All the things I love best about traveling.  

As we descend, though, we see still more beer on the way. 
Lots of it.

Without cars, horses, donkeys, or even llamas, everything comes up the hill on their backs.  Even the beer.  Golly, this looks like a hard way to party.

These adorable little girls are delighted to have their picture taken.  We were warned before coming here that they will beg for candy, an otherwise unknown commodity for them.

However, it was pointed out that it does them a huge disservice, as their normal diet does not include sweets, and there is no dentist on he island to treat the detrimental results of our well-intentioned gifts.

Did you catch that?  No dental care on the island.  Period.

Life looks to be difficult here on Isla Tequile.  But I'm so glad that they shared it with us ~ we who have not one single thing to complain about in our comfortable, lush, plush lives. 
It's always a good reminder.

And I'm grateful.

See the video clip @:

And one more:


  1. Very interesting. I would like to understand what the celebration is about. Love traveling!
    Dianna L

    1. We inquired several times while there; and I have attempted to research the "why" once we got home. The best I can come up with, 'cause they kept saying "Nobody works today" was that it's sort of like our Labor Day Weekend. But. ?? Don't really know for sure ~ but it sure was interesting ~


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