National Geographic : 1955 Jan
4 Indian Villages Ring Lake Titicaca, a Center of Aymara Culture Author Harry Tschopik, Jr., and his wife made Chucuito, a village on the lake, their home base for a 2/2-year study of the Indians. In pre-Inca times the town served as capital of a powerful Aymara state. Later, under Spain, it rivaled Cusco and Lima. Today the home of 800 people, Chucuito lives in the memory of its bygone splendor. Aymara Indians Plant Potatoes + at 13,000 Feet in the Andes Driving a yoke of oxen, the Chucuito farmer guides a wooden plow of a type introduced by 16th-century Spaniards. The two women tote seed potatoes in shawls, their purse and carryall. South America's gift to the world, the white potato grows in 40 varie ties around Chucuito. Bahia de Puno, an arm of Titicaca, cuts the valley below. 1 eat, the fried "eggplant." It was a melon! Not only were the products themselves strange to us. So were the marketing tech niques. The ingenious ways of cutting meat would have baffled a well-trained anatomist. While usually we knew what kind of animal we were eating, we could never be quite cer tain as to what part. Perhaps it was just as well. Striking bargains and making purchases often posed curious problems. Lard, for ex ample, was brought to market in gasoline tins and sold by the spoonful. "I should like 15 spoonfuls of lard," my wife said one day to an old market woman. "No, sefiora," was the prompt reply. "There are only 15 spoonfuls left. You may have three." "But I come to market only twice a week," my wife protested. "Three wouldn't last any time at all." "I'm sorry, sefiora. I have come many kilometers to market. If I sold you all my lard, I would have to go home early." Economic gain, clearly, is not the only motive for commerce.