Imagine how the Incas made their roads and buildings. What we saw was a panorama of perhaps 800 people, red sweaters and hats against the green fields and grey rock, building 600 meters (think over 6 football fields long) of improved trail about 5 feet wide. Taquile is composed of 6 suyos or neighborhoods (thus the 6 dance troups). In this massive community project, each suyo completed 100 meters of new trail. Men using wedges and big hammers pounded and split the sandstone rock into blocks; the sound is chink, chink, chink of metal on metal. They carried rocks in wheelbarrows and on their backs. Armando had a nice sheepskin to pad his back from the heavy rock. Think two feet by three and six inches thick; I can't guess the weight.
Women sorted gravel and brought it to the trail, carried bags of sand from the beach (a long climb), bags of cement from the boat (the same long climb) and smaller rocks. Very hard work. Very. Sometimes they found sit-down work.
We walked the whole length of the job, greeting and receiving greetings from people we've known for years as we went. We played with some of the children--Cusi and Sarita babysitting their little brother Johel. We carried a few rocks, our token contribution, but then joined in the rock placement work. Just like any rock walkway project (only without the truck to drop off the pallet of flagstone), we worked with Armando to help put the puzzle together of which rock fit where, and chipping or leveling the sand underneath to make a level path. In some places, culverts were made with rock passageways for water to flow underneath. In other places several levels of rock were built up to reduce the dips, level the trail.
The whole project was done in three days, the authorities walking up and down to pass out coca leaves. It's a beautiful trail, smooth enough to walk upon in the dark without a flashlight, no stairs. I personally grieved some of the beautiful living rock that was split apart to build the trail, but no one else seemed to care, and really, Taquile has a lot of rock.