on her home of reeds –
reed floor, reed walls, reed fuel –
the cook fries flat bread
The clay cook stove with its clay pots sits in the open, fueled by dry totora reeds, since no fires are allowed inside the huts made of reeds. The Uros cook wears her hair in long braids ending in huge tassels called t'ikas. The style of her hat, colorful jacket and full skirt, perhaps even the tassels are traditional attire for the women of the floating islands. In addition to frying flat bread, the cook is boiling some small fish. Most of the fish in Lake Titicaca are imports, rainbow trout from Canada and king fish from Argentina, which have overtaken the native fish. Tourists are another invasive species, but we are greeted warmly, ushered in twos and threes inside their tiny homes, then led by the hand to the crafts spread out for sale on the yielding ground of floating reeds.