Unique Capachica´s People (Part III)
Upon arrival on Capachica you notice how the colors of the lake are reflected in the nut-brown faces of the people of the highlands. These quechua spoken people still live in adobe brick cottages with totora reed roofs. You can choose to overnight at one of these huts or at the camp site in Santa Maria or Llachón. Then another different experience is about to begin: getting in touch with Capachica´s peoples.
As you walk by the village, you surely encounter local people and the first thing you can’t help realizing is how men and women usually dress themselves. Their attires are typical and special. Single men wear red and white tightly woven woolen caps whereas married men use red hats. In addition to this, men always wear roughly spun white shirts, thick calf-length black pants and elegant-looking waistcoats woven by their women. On the other side, women are embellished by colorful headdresses, delicately embroidered blouses and many-layered skirts.
Dance and Music
However, you have the chance to appreciate stark beauty on Capachica´s festivals where most of the inhabitants wear imaginative, rich and ornate costumes, elaborate and grotesque masks, dazzling sequined uniforms and animal outfits. Most of Capachica´s festivals are rowdy and festive and, by tradition, they are performed communally across the entire town. One of the most relevant feasts is held on the fifth of August to honor the child Saint Salvador. This is a four-day feast filled with parades, fireworks, contests of dances and musical bands as well as bullfighting.
Other popular dances are Caramachos or Kara machus which is a burlesque dance held in January. In February, young people express their love dancing the Huanchaco Qhaswa or Q´haswa during carnival season, and Ispalla or musucpapa dance is held after people worship the Mother Earth or Pachamama with rituals and rites on the summit of Capachica peninsula.
Dances mingle with happy and sad melodies which come from an array of typical musical instruments such as quenas or panpines, pirurus, tinyas or tambourines, wankaras or larger drums, brass and string instruments as well as bells, rattles and shakers.
From the Lake and the Land
Titicaca´s people eke out a living with fishing. Moreover, fishing is a cultural tradition in which everyone gets involved. When fishermen come back to the dock, boats are full of kingfish, pejerrey, mauris and black and yellow carachis. You will not be able to resist tasting a grilled kingfish or a chaulla thimpo or t´impu which is a boiled fish served with potatoes and dry potatoes or chuño. Also from the water of the lake you can indulge yourself with a mazamorra of llaska which is an algae served with potatoes and milk.
If you are not on the mood to try seafood, there are others ingredients such as wheat, meat, qiwicha, oca, olluco and barley. You might begin with a soup made of boiled barley or phata soup, or a cheese soup known as queso kauchi. Another soup is made of quinoa or quinua with egg, potatoes and vegetables. Quinoa is an important ingredient of any Andean dish and you will find out this on a couple of main dishes such as k´ispiño, small pieces of quinoa flour mixed with fat, and p´esqhe or pesq´e, cream made of quinoa, milk and cheese. If you prefer potato, you can ask for huatia, chunks of hot potatoes with cheese. Last but not least you can calm down your thirsty by drinking salvia, mint or peppermint tea. Yummy!
Titicaca inhabitants´ hands master the art of working the stone and of knitting and embroidering. Colorful prevails in hats or monteras, blouses, jackets, caps or chullos, sweaters, scarves, vests for men and juyonas for women as well as colored mantles for women called llicllas, and mantles or chucos.
You can bring back home not only your pictures and a few handicrafts but also your everlasting experience with Capachica´s native people.