Saturday, May 30: Today marks 40 years of marriage for Hubby and me. When we began planning this trip, we didn’t even think about that. But, here we are in Atuncolla, a remote village in the province of Puna, Peru preparing to spend most of our day with our group of 12 fellow travelers and learners, hosted by local families who are descendants of the Quollas (or Colla). The Quolla Kingdom rose to power following the collapse of the Tiahuanaco culture of the 12th century and remained in power until the Incas came along around 1200 years A.C.
Fourteen families (at this writing) have organized a various programs of living tourism to provide room and board to visitors interesting in experiencing the rural Peruvian experience. While our group will be returning to Lima in the evening rather than staying overnight, I am looking forward to a culinary encounter with a host family later in the day. As for food, here’s a representative assortment of Peruvian foods. One of the dishes here (lower right corner) is a cuy dish. (translation: guinea pig! which could make me crave beef tripe and hog chittlins at some point!)
After we meet our host family, now here’s where the Spanish speakers will get a lot of practice I think and this is when I wish I knew more Spanish than the rudimentary phrases, we’ll continue our morning with a short llama trek, along with and other transportation, to the shores of Lake Umayo. There we’ll depart by boat to Umayo Island for an eye feast of bird and other wildlife. (I have read that the island, in the middle of the lake, is populated by just one family which is self sufficient, but have not as yet been able to substantiate that report. I will try to learn more about this and update after we return in June.)
Afterwards, we’ll visit the Necropolis of Sillustani (City of the dead. Don’t you love the word?) to see the pre-Inca Chullpas, which are giant circular tombs built by the Quollas to bury their big whigs (or chiefs and other elite) in. Some of the stone masonry is said to be superior even to that we’ve already seen of the Incas. The insides were shaped out like wombs and the dead were buried in the fetal position, with a single opening facing east toward the rising sun.
Lunch will be at the home of local natives, and will give us an up close opportunity to become better acquainted with their culture. As long as I’m not served tripe or chitterlings I’m sure I’ll be fine. Anything that never had a face will be great. From there, we’re off to Juliaca, a rather nondescript industrial town I understand, where the airport is. We have reservations on the 9:20 flight back to Lima. From what I read, there’s only one flight per day to Lima. Let’s hope we don’t miss it.
Hopefully, in deference to the other significance of this day of our lives, there will be a time and place for a nice anniversary dinner? Perhaps a chilled Pisco Sour? Whatever transpires, and I know we’ll survive whatever comes, I’m sure neither Hubby nor I ever thought, during that fateful day in Pittsburgh 40 years ago, that we would find ourselves today in Peru, surrounded by nine other people who would have been total strangers then, and who will, hopefully, still like us after 13 days together on tour.