The Young Men and the Sea

Published: 08th March 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2015 04:18 AM   |  A+A-


Taquile Island/ Peru

Young Men.jpgThe tourism industry, however enchanting it may be, is an invasion and revelation of a place’s uniqueness. Many times it has tried to change the tiny Taquile island of some 2000 inhabitants, known as Taquileños, bang in the middle of Lake Titicaca in Peru. What is special about this tiny inhabitant of the Pacific Ocean is that it is the source of knit handicrafts with a difference—they are all created by the men of the island. The women are not entirely lazy; they make the yarns and form the support system for their men. ­The exquisite Taquile textiles are in much demand by congnoscenti designers and fashion houses, and are even protected as a UNESCO world heritage subject. The men of the community are exclusively responsible for the delicate thread work that goes into these traditional Spanish dresses. They begin to learn the craft when they are young boys of eight. One of the signature objects that is available at Taquile island is the chuyo hat that is worn by the locals. After outsiders tried to take over tourism on the island in the 1970s, they were repulsed by the obdurate locals who got together to create their own unique model, where it’s is the members of the island community who handle arrangements for the tourists—around 40,000 a year directly—home stays, transportation, living arrangements for groups, cultural activities, local guides and restaurants. The past has a special place in these Peruvian villagers’ lives—they live by the Inca motto, “ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla (Quechua for do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy)”. 

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