Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lake Titicaca and the floating islands

This is Mike...
For a couple of days we stayed in the outskirts of Puno, which is the home base for the Lake Titicaca activities. Our hotel was on the lake about 10 kilometers out of town toward the Bolivian border. The lake is at 12,500 feet (3,800 meter) elevation and as such one has to watch out for altitude sickness. As for Puno, it is similar to many other border towns with police and their checkpoints everywhere to brighten your day. We heard the heightened policing is related to drug trafficking coming in from the Bolivian side. 
   The floating reed islands are interesting and quite ingenious creations which helped protect the Uru people from invading forces and allowed them to live in relative peace. Each reed island can take up to a year for a family to construct and they require constant maintenance to ensure it stays fresh and afloat. Today, getting out to the reed islands is very easy from Puno harbor. We have heard some people say that the locals on the islands hassle you to buy stuff etc. We did not feel hassled at all, rather the islanders went out of their way to show us their floating impermanent world. I can see how this would have been an amazing site to see 30 years ago when less power boats and more authenticity were the norm. I reckon such is life all around the planet- more, better, faster. Still, the island was a blast for our kids who were jumping joyously on a neighborhood sized bouncy house.

The mountains had snow on them as we were approaching Puno area

The islands are about one kilometer from the harbor.

The ladies greeted us with song as we approached

The islander are busy all day keeping their floating islands maintained.

This organic material forms the floating base of the island. The islanders tie these floating clumps together, then add the reeds on top, to level the surfaces for construction. 

We ate a couple reeds to see what it tasted like.

We were shown inside a hut.

The girls bought a cloth for the dinner table.

The kitchen area

Each island has its own tower for observation.

The ladies sang as we departed .

Adorable little girl

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