Taquile is an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca, a couple hour boat ride from Puno. The Quechua speaking island, though frequently visited by tourists, still retains a very traditional lifestyle, which includes weaving, traditional food and dress, and mythology. The beautifully illustrated book, Kusikiy: A Child From Taquile, Peru by Mercedes Cecilia, offers spectacular insight into the ancient culture still living on this fascinating island.
Children’s books have a way of simplifying unfamiliar ideas and ways of life. Through the story of the young boy Kusikiy, we learn how the islanders of Taquile live. In the tale, Kusikiy learns from his great-grandfather that a constellation is missing from the sky. He asks the APU, the spirit for the glaciers for help, and an adventure ensues that walks us through an array of traditions. We learn the importance of the giant frogs, condors, and flamingos found around and in the high altitude lake. We learn about the stone terraces that continue to decorate the island. We learn how to weave memories into wool, about tortora reeds, and the fragile balance of life that can change with the rain. In Kusikiy, we see the passing of generational knowledge and the reasons behind it in full swing.
As simple as it may be (it is a children’s book), I have yet to find better and more straightforward insight into Taquile culture.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.