This episode of “Takizawa Hideaki‘s Journey Cutting Through 4800km of South America” (滝沢秀明 南米縦断4800キロの旅) might be the best Johnny’s Journey episode I’ve seen so far. Tackey-san only recently crossed the border between Chile and Peru on his way from Santiago to Lima, and spent the last episode climbing to new heights.

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On the bank of Lake Titicaca now, he looks at what his guide has to say about the city he’s in – Puno – and finds that there are artificial islands made of reeds (totora) in the middle of the lake.

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It’s a huge and deep lake, so there’s plenty of room for many such island communities.

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Tackey-san looks out over the lake . . .

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. . . and a boat owner who is rounding up potential passengers practically pushes him on board.

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Off he goes . . .

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. . . and he notes that the two passengers sitting next to him must be island dwellers, since their clothing is different from that of the regular residents of Puno.

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Once the boat’s acceleration gets steady, Tackey-san takes the opportunity to get a better view.

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And this is what he sees:

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The islands are pretty close to being rafts – they only go a few meters deep. Venturing out onto the lake, he quickly finds himself surrounded by totora islands.

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When he disembarks, he immediately notes that the island’s surface is like a mat.

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He passes through the village gateway . . .

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. . . still marveling at the feel of the ground.

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As he approaches the some boat builders, he’s greeted by the village chief (村長 – sonchou).

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And also by a girl encouraged to shake his hand. Naturally, Tackey-san’s response after greeting her is “kawaii.”

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The village chief invites Tackey-san into his home.

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After telling him that five children stay in this house, the woman who is apparently the chief’s wife asks Tackey-san if he’s married.

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Tackey-san reveals that he is single (独身 – dokushin), and her smile broadens as she says that there are lots of unmarried women on this island (hint, hint).

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And to some degree, this really shows that humans are pretty much the same everywhere, I think. At least, from my own experience, I was totally expecting these particular lines, and was grinning with familiarity when she said them. Once I got what “dokushin” meant, figuring out the rest was easy.

The chief then takes Tackey-san on one of their more magnificent ships, called a barsa.

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At first, Tackey-san is seated in the children’s section.

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But then the chief decides to upgrade him. And by that, I mean put him to work:

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This doesn’t last very long, as Tackey-san soon tires and gives up.

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So, it’s back to the kid section with him. He learns the names of his fellow passengers . . .

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. . . and they get “Tackey” easily. He’s surprised that they get it so easily, so they explain that his name is like their word for footsteps/stomping. That leads him to have some stomping fun with them – the narrator calls it a new Tackey gag.

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Anyway, they’re such an adorable bunch of kids that naturally they have to take a cute picture:

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Back on the island, he discovers that they cook food on hot rocks:

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It takes about thirty minutes from the description at the bottom. Maybe longer than it would be over an open flame, but doubtless safer considering they’re living on reeds. That’s not to say they don’t use fire, though – they have clay ovens with fires inside over which they cook flatbread, for instance.

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This is surely the most interesting meal Tackey-san has enjoyed on this trip, and the conversation over lunch is interesting, too. At one point, Tackey-san said “cerveza”, implying that the food would go well with a beer and deftly making his meal companions laugh with one of the few Spanish words he knows.  Unfortunately, most of the conversation was out of the my translation comfort zone.

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At one point, he asked the woman to his right how old she was. When she answered seventy-five years old, he replied “wakai!” (若い – young)

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This meal was probably the most substantial interaction Tackey-san had with locals on this trip, and was akin to the time Takaki-kun and Chinen-kun spent on the farm in Riom while in France (the best part of that Johnny’s Journey). However, I think it’s fair to say that this experience was far more unique.

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As he parted, they continued waving to him until he was genuinely out of sight.

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Back on shore with his Jeep “Ouji” (Prince), Tackey-san has to figure out the rest of his route to Cuzco, and he continues his way to Machu Picchu.

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The ride starts out fine . . .

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. . . but then the clouds close in . . .

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. . . and soon he finds himself in the middle of a storm.

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Not only that – a hailstorm. Is it alright to try to climb mountains in this kind of weather?

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Well, we’ll have to watch next week’s episode to find out.

There was no Tackey-Tsubasa talk in this episode for obvious reasons. As usual, that segment was dropped for the best reason possible – there was too much actual content to get through in the episode, and they really didn’t need the filler.

I think Tackey-san was particularly charming in this half-hour, but that was thanks entirely to the welcoming attitude of the island dwellers. By being so hospitable and excited to see him, they gave him the opportunity to have truly memorable interactions with them. The rest was simply Tackey being Tackey.

This episode bodes well for the future of the Johnny’s Journey sequence. It’s pretty clear that they identified the best episode in the Takaki-Chinen trip, and found a good way to do something similar but better here. Perhaps the goal with the A.B.C-Z trip through Australia is to just do episodes like this, by making them work with locals. At least, there’s a strong sense that they’ve figured out what works.