Monday, April 18, 2011

on Islas Uros

on Islas Uros
rowboat tied to the floating
totora reed island

On our three-hour boat ride from Puno to Isla Amantani on Lago Titicaca, we stopped at one of the Islas Uros, the floating islands made from totora reeds. The Uros people literally live on the abundant reeds they gather from the shallows, construcing islands from cross-hatched layers of reeds and replenishing them as the bottom rots. The Uros also build their huts from reeds, so tightly woven that few drops of rain make it through the thick thatch. A family of four or five sleeps on reed beds that take up most of the hut. Flames of any kind are not allowed inside, so most activities take place in the open area in front of the circle of huts. The Uros also build large boats from bundles of reeds. They even eat the reeds, peeling the white base. Nowadays they fabricate crafts from reeds for the tourist trade. It is said that the Uros retreated to these islands to avoid the incursions of Callos and Incas. Now, few pure-blood Uros remain, due to intermarriage with the neighboring Ayamara. The island we visited has a solar panel, so the islanders have a television and, of course, the ubiquitous cell phone.

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