My friend, Mary, asked more about the floating islands. It was a fascinating place... definitely one of the highlights of the trip!
We arrived at the islands to be greeted by the Uros family living there. First stepping on the island I couldn’t believe how much you sunk into it and that it actually moves when people walk around.
It's hard to see the map, but one side of the lake is Peru and the other side of the lake is Bolivia. The Uros live on the Peruvian side of the lake.
The lake is full of reeds.
When there is a storm, the reeds get uprooted and float off. The Uros get in their boats and cut the floating reeds up into manageable sizes and drag them back. Here is a mini example of what an uprooted reed block looks like:
They tie all the reed blocks together and anchor them to the bottom of the lake.
Then they cover the island with cut reeds, criss-crossing them to make a thick base:
Then they bring in their houses...
And this is the whole happy family, living on the new island...
The people here also eat the reeds and make their houses out of reeds:
Here is what it looks like inside a typical house:
The entire family... in this case three people, all sleep in the same bed. And yes! That is a TV in the corner! Using money from tourism, they were able to buy a solar generator. Their favorite shows are soap operas :oD
They get insulted if you try to offer them money. Instead, they sell handicrafts to the tourists. Here is an example of their crafts:
The islands don't last forever, they need to add more reeds to the top of the island every 15 days. And they need to make a new island every 30 years or so.
They make their boats out of reeds too...
Here is us riding on the top level of the boat with a view of the island behind us. It's pretty rocky up there, haha!
A little more about the Uros... They dress like this every day:
The women wear pom-poms at the end of their braids. The color and size of the pom-poms indicate whether the woman is married, single, married but looking, or single but living with someone. So there is never any confusion:
Here is another island where we ended our reed boat ride. This island is more populated than the one we just left:
And you think that it looks like a beautiful day? Well, beautiful maybe... but COLD!!! 37F when we left the hotel this morning! There was still frost on the island when we arrived. The Uros are a tough people. They don't have heat and they don't even wear shoes.
Well, that's about it for the Uros and the floating islands. This along with the Amazon and Machu Picchu was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.