Lake Titicaca.
Lake Titicaca. Rae Wilson

A day on the water at Lake Titicaca

THE single women and men are not as colourful as the married ones.

Their clothes always have a white section because their lives are not 'complete'.

The people on Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca have strict rules about such things.

If a boy and girl want to marry, they must live together for a year to ensure they are compatible.

At the end of the year, the man must knit a beanie of such high quality that the girl's father can pour in water without it dripping through.

If he passes this test, the girl must sacrifice her hair to knit a belt to support her husband's back and ensure a part of her is with him every day.

This is one of the many stories from the various and different cultures existing on islands on the 3810m lake.

I had a homestay with the Llachon community on the Capachica peninsula.

I stayed with the community's president Richa, his wife Flora and their cheeky son Alex.

I wore their traditional clothing to keep warm at the high altitude, with my partially white single woman's hat, claro (of course).

A group of us played volleyball, a favourite sport on the islands, and felt inferior next to their polished skills.

I also visited the Urus floating islands which are made from reeds.

It's an unsettling feeling when they jump and you can feel the island move beneath you.

They keep their homes afloat by adding more reeds when needed.

In nearby Puno, like most of Peru, you can find guinea pig (cuy) on the menu. It´s a bit on the boney side but a sweet meat if you can stomach it.

The highlight of my Lake Titicaca experience would have to be jumping off the roof of our boat into almost freezing water.

The horrendous bruises from trying to clamber back in the boat are a constant reminder of how fun, or silly depending on how you look at it, it was.

Do it.

A Latin Affair is a travel column written by Rae Wilson.


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