DAY 6, NOVEMBER 2, 2007
The morning dawned clear and bright, Lake Titicaca shining a brilliant blue in the monochrome brown mesetas and pampas of the Peruvian altiplano. We traveled 54 kilometers by bus from Puno to the community Huantacachi Chila, where a group of women savers welcomed us warmly. The women were wearing their traditional dress-- beautifully embroidered sweaters, wide skirts, and hats, brightly embroidered ones for the single women and round-topped brown felt hats for the married women.
Rosa Condori Escobar, President of the Pankaristas (flowers in Aymará, one of two native languages spoken in Perú) told us of her community’s experience with savings at the Los Andes Rural Credit Union over the past two years. Her address was translated from Aymará into English and French by Maria Victoria and Alejandrino, the group’s two hard-working translators.
The community works principally in cattle-raising cattle also plants potatoes, wheat, quinoa and barley for their own consumption. In their testimonies, Señora Rosa, Lula Pari and other members of the community described how their savings accounts have given them a sense of security, raised their self confidence and have also helped them learn good money management practices.
We headed on, visiting another community where the Maria Auxiliadora Savers welcomed us in the community hall. Nancy Garavito Pari, President of the group, and other members related their experiences with savings, sang, danced and invited us to share a meal of quinoa with milk.
We visited a third community of women savers in Quelca. Carlos Rodriguez, the group’s technical coordinator, moderated a lively exchange between the ruteros and the women savers.
Following an abundant buffet lunch at a restaurant overlooking Lake Titicaca, we headed back to Puno. At the waterfront we boarded a boat to take us to the floating islands of the Ouros. The sun blazed in a brilliant blue sky and the azure-coloured lake spread out before us like an inland sea.
Señora Rita welcomed us warmly to the island where six families live. She explained how the floating islands had been made using blocks of the roots of lake reeds, which are also used to build the Ouros houses and are an important staple of their diet.
We returned to the hotel for a presentation from the Los Andes Rural Savings and Credit Union. Following a round of questions and answers, Don Raúl Calle, Los Andes’ General Manager, gave each participant a present: a chuyo, an Andean woolen hat.
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