So, as I mentioned in my last post, whilst on our Puno and Lake Titicaca leg of the tour, we stayed on the island of Amantani for a night with a local family. Instead of a normal host family stay, what we did was something called viviencial tourism. Essentially, what that consists of is in exchange for their hospitality, we, as visitors, bring gifts of food, toys, school supplies and other daily necessities, as well as pay (via the tour company) a fee to the families. This is incredibly important, because the families that live on these islands live very basically, due both to their remote geographical location and their relative poverty.
While there are a lot of critics of viviencial tourism (and rightly so, I've heard a lot about greedy tour companies not paying the island residents a fair fee, or favouritising certain islands/ families), I think that it's a fantastic idea. The family that I stayed with were over the moon to host three foreigners (Ida from Denmark, Alana from Australia, and myself) who spoke Spanish, and were incredibly grateful when we gave them toys for their grandchildren and rice and cooking basics, as they told us that they only get to go into Puno to buy supplies about three times a year, as the boat ticket is too expensive.
Even though we were there for only a night, Juan and Maria took us into their home and did everything they possibly could to make us feel comfortable. It was incredibly interesting to see how they lived - with only two lights, no oven, a dirt floor and hay mattresses. The toilet was an outhouse with no flushing function and no light, there was no shower, no television, no internet or phone reception... And I didn't mind a bit. Instead of sitting on Facebook for hours and searching for wifi hotspots, we went out with our host families and played soccer (4000m above sea level, so you lost your breath so quickly!) and went dressed up in traditional clothes and went to a dance (peña).
Sadly, this is the last of my travel posts whilst here in Peru, as I now have less than a month left here in this amazing country! Don't fret though - I still have a lot to post about Lima and Peruvian culture!