The Orange Hat


This blog entry about the events of Sunday, January 04, 2004 was originally posted on January 05, 2004.

DAY 78:  I woke up on a rainy morning on Isla Amantani feeling a little bit better from the night before.  Basilia came to our room with a breakfast of bread, eggs and muña tea, and then bid us an early goodbye.  “[I have to go to work,]” she explained.  Rachel gave her the gifts of such groceries as cooking oil and rice before she head off.

“That goodbye was pretty anti-climactic,” I commented.

WITH THE COAST CLEAR, Rachel could wear her orange woven hat that she bought from another woman the day before, freely around the house without offending Basilia.  Unfortunately, “work” for Basilia was simply to go into town and buy groceries, many of which were just bigger bags of what Rachel had gotten her.  We sat with Basilia in the humble kitchen for small talk to kill time, but Rachel soon got up for some fresh air.  “I felt her staring at my hat the whole time.”

Later I noticed Basilia telling her son Jose about Rachel’s orange hat.

RACHEL AND I BID BASILIA A FAREWELL and then bid one to Jose, who had also gotten sick from the weather.  He came out of his room for a bit because Rachel had gotten him a small gift — a whistle in the shape of a duck.  Apparently it was the most exciting thing for him on his three-month vacation from school because he could hear him blowing it loudly as we walked all the way down to the boat port.

“YOU MISSED THE PARTY,” Ivan the Dane said.  I told him about how sick I was and he filled me in on the details.  I sort of wished I was well enough to have went; the Norwegian girls Loella and Meyliss had put on big traditional skirts and danced around for everyone. 

After Professor Roberto’s make-up lecture, we made our way out on the lake again.  However, with the weather still a bit gloomy, the water was too choppy, forcing us to dock for an hour.  The hour was sort of a waste of time because when we embarked, the waves bounced the boat up and down anyway.  Not only did I have to deal with a mild fever and mild altitude sickness, but now sea sickness was in the picture.  It was probably worse for the French woman who tired to use the lavatory during the bumpy ride, who came out simply stating, “Que horrible!”

ISLA TAQUILE, OUR NEXT AND FINAL STOP of our two-day Titicaca tour, was only about an hour south east of Isla Amantani along a wavy route.  We docked and walked down the generally flat path across the island to the main plaza, passing by villagers and their oxen, stopping one for another one of Professor Roberto’s mandatory lectures — a little girl looked on and looked quite sad about it.  The sun finally came out, which was good news for me, but not for the Spanish woman who caked on sunblock around her lips, making her look a little bit like a clown.

The people of Isla Taquile live in a sort of Communist way.  When we got to the main plaza, village men were working together to build a new house, only to be paid equally with community funds.  In fact, the restaurant we had lunch in was also run by the community, with all income going into a shared community pool. 

Professor Roberto explained in another lecture that every man on the island wore a woolen hat with specific colors to show their marital/dating status: half white, half red if you are single; all red if you are married.  If you are a single but have a girlfriend, you move your pom-pom to the left side — if not, it stays on the right.  The Communist-like way of life sure did make the dating scene a lot easier.

After a glance at the sign post showing the direction and distance to most major world cities, we hiked down the 544 pre-counted steps with our capitalist multi-colored orange and green hats, passed villagers and girls tending sheep (picture above), to the boat port on the other side of the island.

DURING THE THREE HOUR CRUISE back to Puno on much calmer waters, I took a nap on the roof deck before chatting with Ivan and Elizabeth, the Danish parents of 12-year-old daughter Sarah and 4-year-old son Daniel.  I was quite impressed with how well-behaved the kids were, backpacking with their parents for seven months, but I was even more impressed with Ivan and Elizabeth’s optimism despite the fact that in the their trip so far, they had most of their luggage stolen when “in storage” in Cuba, had their camera stolen in Mexico City, only to find out that their house in Denmark had been broken into two weeks later.  Ivan tipped me on a tour company that they booked on with a bus to La Paz, Bolivia, with a lunchtime stopover in Copacabana, which I wanted to at least see.

BACK IN PUNO’S PORT, I bid farewell to the Danes, the French, the Colombians and the German girl with the Peruvian boyfriend.  I hopped in a taxi with Rachel, Loella and Meyliss, which dropped me off first at my hostel.  I said goodbye to the American and the Norwegians, checked into my room and went off to run some errands. 

Lara, whom I met in Lima and spent Christmas with, sent me a message saying that she was in town, so I went to see if she was up for dinner.  Her hostel desk attendant informed me she had left for Copacabana.

No matter — as I walked down the block from Lara’s hostel I immediately ran into Rachel, who was just wandering around town, killing time before her night bus to Arequipa.  She tagged along with me as I had a cheap chicken dinner, followed by ice cream for dessert.  A local boy had apparently been following Rachel all night, because he always turned up wherever we went to try and sell her candy.  Eventually she caved and bought five.

Rachel and I parted ways.  I, off to the Bolivian “Caca” side, and her to explore more of the Peruvian “Titty” side.  I assumed she would continue wearing her orange woolen hat guilt free, away from the islands of Titicaca.

Next entry: Saved By A Twelve-Year-Old

Previous entry: School Days On The Titty Side

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Comments for “The Orange Hat”

  • HEY GANG:  I’m all caught up right now, enjoy…  I’m still sort of sick—“it hurts when I swallow!”—so bear with me with the next couple of entries, which will include today’s latest “character,” an Aussie named Joel…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  11:51 PM

  • FIRST AGAIN!!! buhwahahahahaa…

    (erik doesn’t count!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  12:23 AM

  • erik.!!
    happy new years..!!
    is there any way to surf from titty to caca ....  at night.??

    hope you start feeling better soon.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  12:31 AM

  • aw man. so close. you better catch up with lara in a bit. as for the lady with the clown sunblock lipstick, you should have taken a picture of that. i would have liked to see it. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  02:20 AM

  • re: the mandatory communal hat-wearing thing, that is the best idea yet! imagine all the money i would save on gel and haircuts!

    also, that picture w/ the men building the house, they reminded me of the sever dwarves.

    “hi ho, hi ho….”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  02:47 AM

  • “... it’s off to work we go!”

    Erik, are you sick sick, or is it your old friend the gripe again? Either or, I hope you feel better.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  04:25 AM

  • “Titty” “Caca”...i’m still snickering…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  04:47 AM

  • Erik - get well soon!

    Posted by Liz  on  01/06  at  10:53 AM

  • hey Erik! I’ve been slacking off with keeping up with the blog, trying to catch up now. Right now in Mendoza, arg., heading towards santiago the next few fays. Copacopana is a cool place- make sure you hike up the hill with crosses & cemetery on the top- an awesome view- Isla del sol & isla del luna are kind of anticlimatic & waste of time if you ask me- what are your plans in bolivia?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  02:21 PM

  • Yes, the clown sunblock application would have made a good photo.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  03:35 PM

  • ALICE/SARA:  Sorry, no clown picts… just be happy that there ARE pictures on The Blog…  my original intention was just to have text and maybe just ONE photo per entry… can you imagine?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  04:12 PM

  • NAVID:  HEY MAN!  Happy New Year!  I rode into Bolivia and boy is my bus driver tired!  Didn’t spend much time in Copacabana (you’ll see in the next entry) because I didn’t want to spend too much time in Titicaca and really wanted to see the floating islands—which was only out of Puno.  Anyway, I’m gonna work my way down Bolivia and maybe do gaucho country in northern Argentina…  how long will you be in Argentina?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  04:14 PM

  • Erik, feel better!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  04:55 PM

  • Erik…hope ya feel better….Im new on here but am a FAN after mark showed me the site…actually im in LUST…LOL@can i say that on here…jk

    I love the whole travel bit myself…but honestly im really intrigued by ur site and have book marked it…so expect me to keep coming back with my wack comments…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:29 PM

  • GANG:  Thanks for the get wells… I am getting more well as we speak, er, type…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:39 PM

  • NATALIE:  Thanks, and welcome to The Fellowship of The Blog.  Sure you can say “bad” word you want here, provided you say “earmuffs” first.

    (You can say fuck, shit, bitch… cock, balls… but that’s just an example, you don’t have to go on celebrating it.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:59 PM

  • So if we’re all part of The Fellowship of The Blog, I guess you’re Frodo… all that trekking. Can we now name your trusted backpack Samwise Gamgee?! It may not do your gardening, but it would carry your Lamness (sp) bread if you had any.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  09:29 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
Saved By A Twelve-Year-Old

Previous entry:
School Days On The Titty Side


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