Thursday — April 16
Having noticed what looked like mini-estates on either side of the road to Sillustani, Mui had asked if it would be possible to visit one of them. After consulting Veronica, who is more familiar with the local sites, Vidal had replied, “but of course; we can stop on the way back from the ruins.” Thus, our last stop before we finally headed to Juliaca was at a traditional house typical of the area. Although these houses look like they are constructed of stone, they are actually made with adobe bricks cured under the hot Andean sun. They consist of several small buildings and are surrounded by a tall wall with one or more arched entrances.
A traditional house on the road to Sillustani.
The livestock at this house includes alpacas (left) and llamas.
We were welcomed into the estate by the Aymara-speaking owner and his young son, Alex. After conversing with Vidal, our host went back to his weaving, leaving Alex, who was casting furtive looks our way, to follow us around as we explored the grounds.
Alex and his father welcome us into their home.
Near the open hearth that serves as a summer kitchen, Vidal removed the cloth that was covering a display of various types of potatoes and grains. He then went on to talk about the staples of the local cuisine and explained that they add a clay mixture (like a thick sauce) to the potatoes in order to get some of the essential minerals that would otherwise be missing from the diet. Vidal seemed to enjoy his little “demonstration snack,” but when Mui asked if he could try some, he suggested that Mui abstain from this particular delicacy. Instead, we enjoyed our potatoes with some Andean cheese that our host graciously provided as an alternative.
Potatoes and grains — the basic ingredients of the local diet.
Vidal prepares himself a snack of potatoes and clay.
Afterwards, we wandered around the grounds, checking out the guinea pig houses, the storage rooms, the pile of pottery shards unearthed by our host (which may well have historic significance considering the ancient cultures that once called the area home), and the dried herbs and worms used by traditional healers.
Our exploration of the grounds completed, we returned to the weaving area where we browsed the wall hangings our host had made from llama wool (coarser in comparison to alpaca wool). I would like to have bought one of the bigger tapestries — particularly the one hanging on the loom in the picture below — but our limited luggage space meant being content with one of the smaller ones.
In addition to farming and raising livestock, our host weaves wall tapestries.
(the second tapestry from the left came home with us)
Thus bringing our two-week Andean adventure to a close, we departed for the Juliaca airport.
Next Up: Day 14 — Back to Lima