Jan 26, 2008

Las Islas Flotillas (The Floating Islands)

After a wonderful 10 days in and around Cuzco, Amanda and I had a fitting farewell to this beautiful part of the world with some tea overlooking La Catedral in the Plaza de Armas.

The next morning we crammed into a bus full of gringos headed for Lake Titicaca; Puno, Peru to be exact. After Cuzco, Puno is a sad sight. Gone are the beautiful stone Inca ruins and cobblestone streets. Here in Puno we have mud buildings, muddy streets, and mud everywhere else you look. What Puno does have going for it is the beautiful Lake Titicaca; the largest lake in South America, and the highest navigable in the world at over 12,600 ft.

We couldn´t wait to visit the famous Floating Islands of Uros. We booked our tour and hopped on the slowest boat ever built to began our crawl towards the only islands in the world made entirely of grass reeds. For centuries, the people of Uros have lived in peace on their man-made islands. Floating in roughly 60 ft of water, these 28 islands support 8-15 families each. They each last about 10 years after which the inhabitants begin constructing another reed island that is about 7 ft thick. It is not uncommon for islanders to remove their anchors and float away from ill-behaved neighbors, or loud house parties. They use solar panels for their televisions and eat trout three times a day."Strange" and "confusing" might be the simplest way to describe these ancient, yet constantly refurbished islands.

After 2 hours on Uros we headed 3 hours south by boat to the island of Amantani. This bona fide land island was a tranquil stop on our journey. We stayed in a local family´s home and enjoyed vegitarian meals. After playing soccer, we did some hiking to get an amazing 360 degree view of the 4500 sq. mi. lake. We had dinner and then dressed in traditional clothing for the big party. It was entirely staged for the tourists but Amanda and I danced our hearts out soaked it all in.

After a brief visit to the neighboring island of Taquile, we headed back to the not so beuatiful Puno. Tomorrow we depart for Bolivia, the second country on our list of 11. Now things are really getting interesting!


craigk said...

Floating on reeds...sounds good to me.

alphasquirrel said...

I'm not sure why, but the cat calendar in the background cracks me up...