From the Uros Islands, we continued on to the island of Taquile. It was another two hours or so by motorboat. Taquile is about 22 miles from Puno, the major city on the shore of Lake Titicaca.
The islanders of Taquile maintain a very traditional lifestyle. There are no cars or asphalt roads on the island. Nor are there hotels. If you want to stay the night, a homestay with a local family is the only way to do it. Families take travelers in for homestays on a rotating system.
Agriculture, weaving and tourism are the major sources of income on Taquile.
Potatoes, quinoa and barley are rotated throughout the terraces annually.
During periods when the terraces are left fallow, livestock graze on them to provide fertilizer.
One version of the Inca origin story says that the mythic first Inca ruler, Manco Capac, emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca and then marched on to Cusco to found the Inca Empire. In reality, the Incas, led by Pachacutec, conquered the Collas in the Lake Titicaca basin in the mid 1400s. The myth was probably an attempt at incorporating the local Aymara people in to the empire.
Much of the population of Taquile is descended from Inca colonists. Quechua is still the primary language, although nearly everyone speaks Spanish as well.
The weaving and knitting traditions on Taquile date back to pre-Inca times. Men typically knit the chullos (caps with ear flaps) and women weave chumpis (traditional belts).
There is one primary school on Taquile and another that teaches traditional handicrafts.
Despite being only about 5 square miles, Taquile is basically a mountain that juts out of Lake Titicaca. The main plaza is fairly centrally located on the island, but can be easily reached from any of the ports. It does, however, require climbing a lot of stairs.
After going down the stairs to Puerto Chilcano, we caught a boat for the long trip back to Puno. After a quick motorcycle rickshaw ride, we spent the night in a very comfortable bed at Casa Panqarani.