It’s raining big cold drops outside. The whole place is dark and there’s nothing to do. Welcome to Amantani, a tiny island on Lake Titicaca, Peru.
It’s a sunny place in the daytime and you can follow a stone path that connects the island’s traditional villages. The path takes you up a big hill. A stone archway built by the Incas stands near the summit. You can see most of the island from here, with its golden terrain and tidy plots of farmland, and the azure lake in the back, it almost looks like a Mediterranean place.
Amantani is inhabited by Quechua speaking Indians, they farm potatoes, fish and raise sheep. Agencies based in Puno bring people here for day trips and overnight stays, as it’s only a 4 hour boat ride from the touristy port. But you might consider you booking a trip with the local fishermen’s cooperative. It’s cheaper, and they set you up in a local home, with food included.
Our hosts make soup and potatoes for us that night –every meal consisted of potatoes when I was there- but they go downstairs and leave us to eat on our own. After dinner, we’re joined by the owner’s kids. The boy brings a little pan flute and the girl accompanies him on with a wide, but shallow drum.
They play some traditional tunes by candlelight and we take plenty of pictures because it looks cute. And then, the inevitable, the boy asks for his tips, we give him some soles and he plays some more.
The people here are learning to make a buck from the tourists. The rooms we sleep in have extra warm blankets and a little table. The floors are made of cement and everything is very clean.
Downstairs the owners of the “guesthouse” sleep in a big communal room. The place is cluttered with things and the floor is made of dried-up earth.