Thursday (Jueves) 24th June, 2010
Day 468

Cusco Road, Peru
Cusco Road, Peru
Miles: 46,251
S 15.76960°
W 68.65516°

This morning we took a tour to a famous Puno tourist attraction. The floating islands of the Uros people. Originally conceived as a defensive mechanism against the warlike Incas. The Uros make their homes and live their lives on floating platforms a few kilometers from the shores of Lake Titicaca at the Puno end of the lake.

The islands and their dwellings are a marvel of human inventiveness. The island's platform is composed of a base layer of blocks of the root ball (root and dirt) of the reeds that grow along the lake shore - these reeds and their roots are hollow so even the rootball floats. These blocks about 1m thick and 5x8 meters across are tied together to form an area big enough for 8 to 10 small houses that each house a family. On top of this base layer 1-2 meters of reeds are laid. Not only do they build the islands from the lake reeds but also their houses, their boats, their hats, and furniture. Dried reeds are their only cooking fuel and they eat the lower parts of the stems of the reeds.

Today the Uros live primarily on tourism so they were very friendly and accommodating of us photo-taking tourists.

Nina was asked by one of the women to trade that purple and glass bead baseball cap that she has been wearing since our visit to Wisdom Montana in March of last year. She got the ladies broad brimmed hat made from - you guessed it - reeds.

The Uros have adopted some modern technology in the current way of life. For example they now use nylon rope to tie the base blocks of the islands together. More ingeniously when making reed canoes they wrap the reeds around empty (but sealed) plastic coca cola bottles - I guess this provides floatation while using less reeds.

We camped beside the highway connecting Puno and Cusco in the same gravel pit near Santa Rosa that we used back on 5th November, 2009. For GPS coordinates and other details see the journal entry for that day or the camping log.