The Festival on Amantani

At the end of last month’s column, our tour group realized we were going to be late for the local festival being held in our honour. However, I think our host family was enjoying our company so much they wanted us all to themselves. The entrance requirement for the festival caught our group by surprise as we had to be dressed in the local costume of the island. We were asked if we wanted to do this and we eagerly replied “yes”.

We were ushered into the spare bedroom and then the layers upon layers of clothing came out. We started with a full, brightly coloured circle, of skirts. Then a white long sleeved shirt which was hand embroidered around the neck. Next, a thick hand woven multi-coloured belt is wound around the waist, we all wanted one of these belts to take home.

The final piece was a long black scarf, hand embroidered in colourful patterns at both ends, that was to be worn over our heads. This piece was absolutely stunning and I was quite nervous to be responsible for its care. We were asked to be very careful with these scarves; we were asked not to smoke and to stay away from fires as they were very valuable. We were finally ready for the fiesta, our host daughter Alicia insisted on taking us, and off we went into the darkness better late than never. We were all greeted by a local band eagerly playing away and barely recognized the others in our group in their

beautiful outfits.

It wasn’t long until Pamela had me on the dance floor and she kept me out there as long as she could. I tried my best, but altitude and several layers of clothing soon got the best of me and it was time for a rest and to enjoy the music. After several more dances, and yawns from Pamela, the group decided to head back as it was a school night and we had an early morning ahead of us. As I snuggled into my comfy bed heavy with alpaca blankets, I hoped everyone had as wonderful experience as I did that day. I also vowed to concentrate more on the Spanish lessons when I got back. We arose bright and early to the rooster crowing and everyone going about their morning routines. Our host father was getting ready for work and mom was in the kitchen, however Pamela was nowhere to be seen. As we sat down at the table, she appeared through the gate with a bag of fresh bread in hand for breakfast and quickly sat down to join us.

Our group was treated to lovely spongy pancakes with strawberry jam. I used my Peruvian pancake roll up trick and noticed the girls were quick to follow suit. After breakfast, it was time to say good bye to these new friends and head back down to the boat. We were presented with a beautiful flower necklace made by the girls and a hope they would see me next year. We were treated to a short cut down the hill past the local bull as we headed to the pier. I wondered if everyone had enjoyed this experience as much as I had. Then, seeing the rest of the groups show up with a member of their host family, all the happy pictures and heartfelt farewells easily answered that question.

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