The island of Taquile at Lake Titicaca is one of the most amazing places you are likely to visit on your travels in the Andes. Not only is Taquile known for its beautiful and tranquil scenery. Imagine a place with no roads (the islanders reach everywhere on foot), no police (there is no crime), no traffic noises to keep you awake at night… a place where people still rely on the network of the extended family and neighbourhood ties in order to advance their personal and community projects… This is Taquile! The friendly inhabitants of the island, Quechua speakers of Aymara origin (they were once colonized by the Inkas) have welcomed tourists to their homes for many decades and have successfully provided a lot of the services themselves, keeping investment speculators like tour operators and hoteliers from the outside at bay. No outsider is allowed to own any land on the island, every piece of land belongs to the Taquileños.
We would like to introduce you to our godchildren Elias and Maria and their extended families. They live in a part of the island that is a little distance away from the buzzing centre of the island where most tourists go, and they are thus at a disadvantage with regards to making an income from tourism through offering hospitality (most tourists prefer not to walk this far). Many years ago we had been the god parents to their wedding, a high honour indeed that, as far as we know, has only been bestowed on any outsider, let alone a Gringo (foreigner), twice in the history of the island so far.
Elias and Maria have worked very hard and for many years alongside their family, cultivating the land for staple crops like potatoes, corn, quinoa, oca and broad beans as well as producing woolen textiles for sale to the tourists and providing services for them. It has been a dream of theirs to stay in their ancestral home (many islanders have to leave in order to find employment on the coast or elsewhere in Peru) and to carry on with their traditional way of life. In order to achieve this they have built their own boat to provide tourist transport to the island. The boat was built with the help of family, friends and neighbours. Now everybody is saving up money in order to furnish the boat with seats, a motor and to gain the rather expensive permit that is required in order to legalise its transit on the lake.
A group of visitors from Cologne in Germany that we have befriended a few months ago has recently organized a small fund raising event through a group reunion meeting where they were able to raise 250 Euros that will go towards the above mentioned expenses. We are very grateful to them for their kind gesture and action.
More help is needed though in order to carry out this project that will enable a family group to help itself. If you feel inspired by this you may either:
1) Donate towards the motor and/or other missing furnishings
2) Buy handicrafts from the extended family: you may place your order for colourful gloves, hats, coca bags or friendships bands (these make also great items to sell in a fundraising event your end).
3) Visit the family and buy their services (we work with them closely on our lake Titicaca tours)
We are happy to arrange for any support you may want to give to this project. Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to make a donation or buy handicrafts.