Category Archives: Uros

Tastes Like Chicken

Uros Island

Uros Island

Sleeping on the Job.

Sleeping on the Job.

Bean cheese. She is grinding them .

Bean cheese. She is grinding them .

The phrase that has circumnavigated the globe. Once I was in a market in Bangkok looking at a dead snake. It was a big snake: maybe four feet long and as thick as my wrist in the middle, or so it seems in my memory. The vendor selling it caught my eye. “It very good. Taste like chicken.”

Recently, oimagen the dock in northern Peru where I was swimming with the torgugas, a fisherman had caught a fairly large manta ray. Its pristine white wings were sort of floating in a metal tub, its head gouged out and in a bucket below. While I was looking at  it Sebastian said, “It tastes like chicken.” I eyed him skeptically. “Yes, Ruby, I’m serious. It’s not like fish at all.”  D

On the tour boat en route to theUros Floating Island a few days ago, the guide was talking about the sea

birds. One species in particular, I don’t remember which, he said was trapped and eaten by th

e tribe. “It is gordo (plump), and tastes very good. LIke chicken.”

Yesterday, here in Cusco, I was in San Pedro Mercado, one of the most fascinating markets I’ve been to. Sitting outside was a woman with a basket on her lap. Sticking out of it were several  skinned guinea pigs orCuy, totally intact except for their fur. “Oh,cuy,”

pescado huevos

pescado huevos

I exclaimed. “Si, cuy.” she said. A couple of English speaking women were standing there. “Have you eaten them?” they asked me.  “Yes. The one I had was missing its head and feet and presented on the plate layed out flat. It was kind of dry and grisley.” The woman who held the basket, looked as us while we talked and seemed to be listening, but I don’t think she understood the conversation. I caught her eye. “Do they taste like chicken?” I asked. She laughed. “Maybe English chicken.” We all laughed. There is nothing more precious than a successful joke across cultures.

So, why do we need to kill snakes, and fish, and sea birds and other species that taste like chicken? Why not just eat chicken?

 

Puno: The Living and the Dead

Founded in 1668  near a now defunct silver mine, and on the shore of Lake Titicaca, Puno sits at 12,500 feet. My faulty heart beat hard in my chest climbing up the hills to see the Chullpa Tombs of Sillustani-hell, it protested going up the stairs of the hostel.

The chullpas, huge stone towers cut into square, cylinder, and rectangular shapes that all fit snugly together, is where the Colla tribe buried their dead over 500 years ago.They have been plundered by grave robbers, tumbled by earthquakes, and defaced by tourists. However, they continue to stand as testament to their respect of the dead.  I get it. I take great pride in my family cemetery plot where the remains of  my beloved family lies in Foxburg, PA. although in comparison, our tomb stones are a bit understated.

Would you be interested in setting up house on a foundation of tortora reeds that rot continually, forcing you to move every 25 years or so? I didn’t think so. The small island, part of the Uros Floating Islands that  we visited was one of about 48 on Lake Titicaca. Three or four families, a  total of 26 people live there. I bought a hand-embroidered pillow case of Pachamama (mother earth), made by Maria, the matriarch of the clan. When I was paying her, the coin fell into the reeds causing us to dig among them to find it. Walking on the reeds, ones feet sink in am inch or two. I watched a toddler lurch and stumble, but he got to his destination without help.

The island was very small, less than a whole block in the US; the houses not much more than thatched roof huts. The tribe used to use reed boats exclusively , but out back, behind the houses were several motor boats that the kids were playing on when I was there. A puppy, that dared to poop in front of us tourists was isolated in one of them, looking longingly at the kids. Apparently most of the families only go the islands to meet the tourists, and live on solid land these days. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating history and gives one a clue to ‘back in the day.”

Taquile Island is a non-floating island, with an intricate pattern of terraced farming, fenced off by large rocks dug up on the land. It reminded me of Ireland and England.

The Aymara and Uros tribes have intermarried, causing the Uros language to fade out. We were given a demo of the hats the men wear. Similar to Christmas stockings complete with tassels, depending on if he is married or single, or needs a visor for the sun, it’s turned around on his head. Boy, it takes out the guessing for the girls, who wear long scarves around their hair but don’t cover their faces. They wear tons of petticoats under their skirts and intricately, handknit sweaters.

The guide books say Puno pales in comparison to the colonial beauty of Ariquipa and Cusco. Maybe so, but it beats them hands down for sheer friendliness. Saturday, I happened upon a festival in the plaza. It was not for tourists. The colors of the costumes dazzled under the bright blue sky and hot sun. Walking around taking photos, I was asked to danced, given a cup of beer, and asked questions about my country. Even the women who are usually shy and don’t want their photos taken, allowed me to take a few.

Hilda, the woman who owns Inka’s Rest Hostel could not have been friendlier or more accommodating. Within a day I felt a kinship with her. She suggested I move there, and teach English to her, he

Uros canoes

Uros canoes

image image image image image

Taquile Island

Taquile Island

Huts: Uros Island

Huts: Uros Island

male heron

male heron

Uros Island

Uros Island

image imager 4 year old daughter, and the staff. It’s tempting. Having ceviche in a tiny restaurant, the owner came out to sit with me, to share lives.  That to me, is the point of travel.