After a day of rest and recuperation from their flight, plus enjoyment of the Puno Candalaria Festival, the Burritt/Carre family joined us on Taquile Island, where Carnaval is already in progress. We came on the boat on Tuesday, just enough time to prepare for the biggest party day, Wednesday, Feb. 14. In contrast to other Mardi Gras celebrations in the world, Ash Wednesday is the BIGGEST party day of the week. We had a delightful guest, Catarina from Italy, who joined us in dressing up and dancing.
Women wear multiple skirts, red mantas (large carrying shawls), intricately woven cummerbunds (called a chumpi) with their black head covering (called a chucko) and carrying weechee-weechees, yarn pufts to twirl in their hands. The men also have red mantas, often with a larger central pattern than the women's, also have the cummerbund chumpis, but wear a full-sleeved colonial-style shirt, black short vest, often have red banderas across their chests, and carry longer weechee-weechees than the women. They also wear multiple coca-purses (chuspas), sometimes as many of 15, carefully set to the same length so the fringe resembles a skirt.
|Notice the grasshopper; I've never seen a grasshopper on Taquile.|
The festival is a progressive party, dancing in procession from one house to another. The leaders of the various groups are officers in the community, invited to various houses by relatives or friends. This culture is very strong on recipocity, so invitations flourish depending on relationship. We danced with two different groups, that of Dario from nearly the far west end of the island, and with Nestor's group. We had plenty of family and friends in both groups and hosted each in our home, one on Thursday and the other on Friday. We bought lake trout to serve our guests.
How it all works: The procession is lead by the youngest and most energetic women, sipas munay, in the brightest skirts. Dario's group had a very large group of these beautiful young women and I joined them most of the time, whooping with the drums and flutes of the men, who follow behind the leader. Trailing the main group are grandmothers and young mothers carrying their babies. The last of the procession is the matriarch, the wife of the group's leader, who gathers up the stragglers and drunks to get to the next location.
When we get to the house, the men leaders sit on a bench and the women sit on sheepskins on the ground opposite them.
|Waving the weechee-weechee as we exit the house|