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The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca

These islands are made and re-made from the totora reeds which provide home, sustenance and transportation for their residents, the Uros tribe.

 

The floating islands are protected within the Bay of Puno and are home to 2000 or so Uros, who claim to have "black blood" are consequently immune to the cold. They call themselves be kot-suña, or people of the lake, and consider themselves the owners of the lake and its waters. They continue living by fishing, weaving and now, tourism.

 

The Uros residents of the islands create their homes from the reeds. The roofs are waterproof but not humidity resistant. Cooking fires are built on a layer of stones to protect the reeds. Residents wear layers of clothing, mostly woolen, to protect themselves from the cold, the wind, and the sun which at this altitude can burn fiercely. Many women still wear the distinctive derby type hat and full skirts.

 

Only a few hundred Uros remain on the islands. Thousands of others have moved to the mainland. The Uros who remain on the island rely on a combination of traditional living and modern amenities. They have some electricity which powers their own radio station and a few hours of television per day. That being said, living on the island isn’t an easy life. Maintaining the totora reeds takes a lot of labor. The same is true of gathering food, educating children, and dealing with the encroachment of outsiders.

 

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Taken on January 10, 2012