« ¡Ay carumba! | Main | ...and more bugs »

March 30, 2006

More islands...

Yesterday morning we hopped on a boat for a Three Hour Cruise to Amantani Island and an overnight stay. There aren´t any hotels there, so the agents arrange for you to stay with a family, all meals included, for 20 soles ($7). We were assigned a family to stay with, but as we got off the boat, the captain looked at the name and basically said, No, You´re with me, and we went to his house.

He showed us an upstairs room with 4 beds (sleeps 5), stacks of heavy blankets, and a Formica kitchen table. No electricity. Random chicken parts out to dry on the tin roof. He asked us to wait while his wife made lunch, then said there would be a tour of the ruins in a few hours.

We waited for about an hour for lunch, not knowing what else to do. Greg wandered around and photographed the neighborhood: the family´s donkey, wheat, neighboring sheep, the adobe houses. Lunch was served in the family´s kitchen, which was a small adobe room with a clay pot fireplace and a propane stove. The small family table looked like an old school desk, and anyone who didn´t fit would sit on tree stumps.

The family seemed to consist of: the boat captain Ifrain, his wife, an older son (jr. hi or high school), a younger son Diego (about 9) and a baby (a little younger than Ciera maybe, but drinking out of a cup by herself, although a little sloppily).

Lunch was a simple homemade soup of barley, carrot, potato, onion and peas, with thyme or a seasoning. Second course was a hard-boiled egg, a potato, and a light salad of cooked carrot, onion, peas, MSG and fresh lime. All delicious, and we all were relieved there wasn´t something "weird" being served that would put us in a position of being impolite. During lunch Diego came in to get his math homework checked and his dad corrected a few errors.

The tour of the ruins was conducted by Assigned Tour Guide Diego. He couldn´t decide if he is 9 or 10 years old. He was an easily distracted tour guide. He showed us his school, then with an amazing superhero move he flung himself over a wall and lowered himself into the play yard to retrieve a free ball he found, which he stashed in a bush for pickup later.

A block after that, he checked out a Known Keyhole, where another family was watching television. We waited for him for a while, then when Margaret asked him what was going on, he instructed us to go back to the main plaza, look around, and enjoy the sights. His eye never left the keyhole and the TV show. We laughed. Margaret found some knitters selling soft alpaca hats, so we bought a few. The ladies didn´t have exact change, so Margaret received her choice of three chocolate bars as change.

We hiked way up the hill behind the village to see some ruins. There were more vendors there, trying to coax us into buying more knitted things. The ruins were blocked off with fencing and there wasn´t much to see. Diego looked cold—although his mother had warned us it would be cold and tried to send us along with brand new hats (that we would buy from her later, I assumed) Diego just had a sweatshirt and looked bored, especially since we´d stopped giving him cookies.

On the way back, he flattened 2L soda bottles and sledded down the steep sidewalk home. We assured his mother he´d been a great tour guide, but through the conversation realized he´d left out a good half of the tour. Oh well. Rain and dark both were threatening and we came home at a good time. Greg wondered if the chicken parts would be brought in if it rained (we doubted it).

By this time, Margaret´s stomach was feeling funny from lunch, so she decided to skip dinner. We thought it was a tea that she and Greg had had but I hadn´t. I was glad I was feeling fine. Greg and I brought down the single candle lighting our room, and joined the family for a dinner of omelette with potato, tomato and some veggies, rice, and more soup. It was very good, a bit greasy, but crispity.

We read and played a game by headlamp. The room was dark and cold, so we went to bed before the family.

Posted by sedda at March 30, 2006 04:50 PM