As part of a glorious ride along Lake Titicaca between Puno and Copacabana (and into Bolivia), we’ve had three days of riding with relatively few accommodation options. At the end of the first day we decided to camp. Given the terrain is pretty flat, wild camping is a tricky option as it’s not so easy to hide yourself away out of sight, so we decided to ask if we could set up camp in someone’s back yard.
Meet Grandma Maria and her clutch of grandchildren!
Maria & granddaughter Sara. Maria is knitting herself a cardigan from alpaca wool.
Maria & Hector’s house and land
We spotted Maria about to cross the road in front of her home with one of the youngest kiddies in tow. There was some open land at the back, so we took the plunge and asked her if we could camp out on her lawn. She gave us a smile and immediately agreed. After some discussion where she was keen for us to pitch the tent in the courtyard within her house (we convinced her otherwise as felt bad about how much space the tent would take up), we set up camp just out the back and next to the straw store.
It didn’t take long for four (of her 12) grandchildren to come and visit us. There ensued a play date in the tent. Lots of fun to be had bouncing up and down on our inflatable thermarests and playing ‘pelota’. The kids knew a few words in English so we practiced colours, but the conversation rapidly turned to Sarah (the second oldest) sternly correcting our rather minimal Spanish. We were further put to the test with a series of Spanish riddles and tongue twisters.
From left to right: Jasmine , Matteo, Dana and Sara
Sara-Ann in goal
We were offred some nice hot fried bread at dinner time and Maria and her bemused husband Hector, who’d been out working their farm and looking after their sheep all day, popped by to check up and inspect how we were doing. More intrigue courtesy of my MSR stove and incredulity from the kids that we didn’t have alpaca blankets to keep us warm at night.
The next morning, after a pretty good night’s sleep, Maria was also keen to teach us a bit about their local customs. She and her daughter Pilar showed us how they use clods of earth to build an oven and feed it with dried quinoa sticks to heat it up. They then bake fresh potatoes using the latent heat. Sadly we didn’t have time to stay around for that part but still, it was pretty cool to watch.
Building the oven
Feeding the fire with dried quinoa sticks