National Geographic : 1955 Jan
143 For Coca and Drink, Friends and Relatives Thatch a Roof at an Aymara Housing Bee Field stone set and plastered in adobe forms the walls. Roofers lay down rolls of Titicaca rushes across the rafters, a latticework of poles. Clumps of ichu grass, dipped in mud, shingle the top. + Windowless houses in beehive shape shelter the Aymaras in the Rio Ramis region. Built of sod, such houses can endure 50 years. This one serves as bunkhouse and hat rack. Kitchen (right) is separate. out, steaming in the cold mountain air. Then Manuel's father inspected the spleen carefully for omens of good or evil. With his finger he traced the pattern of fine veins. "The signs are favorable," he said. "This will be a good house." As the carcass of the llama was butchered for the feast that was to follow, the old man burned the heart and the offerings in a ring of fire. The tension of the ceremony was broken, everyone laughed and talked, and, after a pause for a drink and a chew of coca, the work of roofing the new house began. It was after we had been living in Chucuito for more than two years that the most im probable of all events occurred. We were bewitched! And, unchivalrous though it may sound, it was my wife's fault. Many weeks were to pass, however, before we discovered that a curse had been laid upon us. At the time, my wife had received her archeological permit from the Peruvian Gov ernment and was eager to get at some of the more impressive of the ancient structures, portions of which could be seen half buried and surrounded by cultivated fields.