Taquile

The island of Taquile is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is 5.5km long and only 1km wide. The island was acquired by Spanish Pedro Gonzalez Tequila, hence the name of the island. The traditional outfits also have a Spanish influence; the men wear thick weaved belts, white shirts and black pants. Their hats are worn differently whether they are single, married or widowed. The women wear skirts, jackets and a black scarf on their head. The women always walk behind the men.

The island is internationally known for the weavings produced by its people. The people start weaving at a very young age, including boys and men; they weave by hand (sometimes as they walk around!) whilst the women do it from the ground.

The main language is Quechua. There are 2500 people living on Taquile and families have on average 3-4 children. Normally the daughter is dressed by the father and the mother makes her son’s clothing.

However, what really distinguishes Taquile from other places is its unique social structure, and anyone born on the island that does not want to follow the rules must leave. They live on a community base. Everything that is done, is divided between all. There are rotations on those who serve the community for a year, they are like the supervisors. When you arrive on the island, they tell you which restaurant to go eat to and divide people equally among the restaurants in function that day. Also, the menu is the same everywhere and it is at the same price.

One of the most important celebrations are weddings. They must happen during the month of May, and last one full week. Everyone is automatically invited to the wedding, and so there is no need to send out invitations. During this week, the bride and groom cannot use their hands; their godfather or godmother will help them with everything from eating, drinking and going to the toilet. The women have 25 layers on their wedding dress. As a present to their husband, they weave a belt with their hair in it, hair that their mother has saved from every single haircut since they were a child.

We enjoyed the particularities of Taquile, and had a lot of fun giving candy to the children and taking their pictures. The food was delicious as well and we had to head off fairly quickly because the waves would make the ride back quite difficult.

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