Monday, October 12, 2009

Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands - Peru

Hola Amigos! We are a little behind on updating the blog but should be able to catch up soon! We are now in Colombia but still posting about our last stop in Peru. We´ve had a lot of trouble with the computers in internet cafes and viruses on my memory card. For about three days I was sure I´d lost all my photos but luckily a camera shop in Quito, Ecuador was able to recover them. Whew.

Onto Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands of Puno, Peru. We left La Paz for the second time and started our journey north. Lake Titicaca is a huge lake that is on the border between Peru and Bolivia. Just a 30 minute boat ride away are forty small floating islands made of totora reeds that grow in the lake. These floating islands are the home of the Uros tribe which pre-dates the Incan civilization.

We went with a small tour group that dropped us off on one of the islands which was home to seven families. It was wild taking our first step onto the island and feeling the ground sink a bit with each step. We were given a demonstration of how they make the islands. The roots of the totora reeds and the dirt around them form the base of the island. They then pile the reeds themselves on top to form the ground. They have to dive down into the water with big spikes to secure the islands so they don´t float away. Covering the ground with the reeds is an ongoing and never ending job to replace the reeds that rot away. Each island has the expected lifespan of about 18 years. Below is the president of the island demonstrating the process and a local woman rowing back to the mainland.

The women on the island showed us their homes which are completely made of the totora reeds. Even their mattresses are made of them! One woman let us dress up in her clothes and I was given a brightly colored decoration that is worn by the president of the island during celebrations. The outfit Gemma´s wearing is more of a traditional outfit that all the women wear everyday. We love their hats.

We took a ride on a canoe like totora boat to another island to visit with another group of Uros before taking the boat back to the mainland during a beautiful sunset. It was such a cool experience and amazing to see how these people live. Many of the youth of the tribe are now moving to the mainland, tired of life on these tiny islands and the hour commute each day to and from school. Because of this the guide informed us we were probably visiting the last generation to live on the islands full time even though this tribe´s been living there for hundreds of years.

1 comment:

  1. That was an incredible post and well worth the wait!!!

    How lucky you have been to visit this rare land!! (can you calll it land?)

    Fantastic photos..and I also LOVE the hats! :) x x