Uros floating reed Island & Taquile Island

Friday, January 13, 2012
Puno, Puno, Peru
An early start as Ruben our local guide took us out to the floating reed island of Uros on Lake Titicaca.

What was I expecting? This was one of the few things that I knew about South America when growing up was the floating island so finally coming here was in some ways a realisation of a long time wish. I had expected much tourism but to what extent?

Leaving Puno harbour with the many small tourist boats parked up in the stinking stagnant water, I kind of knew that it would be like as we undertook the short 20 minute ride out there.

Ruben informed us that 2,500 people are living on 40 floating islands. The island that we visited has 7 families and 30 people on it. Schooling is provided for their kindergarden primary and intermediate years (3 - 12) then to over to Puno for their secondary education. A medical centre and churches are on the islands.

Excellent explanation how they repair, build and anchor the islands. Wish I had video it.

Surprise that effectively no fish life is in the lake.

Then each of us was given to a family where we don their garments for the photos and told a little about life on the island. Essentially I hope that they continue living as best they can to keep the tradition alive. I know that many have property and other income back in Puno. While it was stressed that we didn't have to buy from their market place, it was hard to resist and say "no".

Soon time to leave and some wanted to pay S/10 for a brief ride on the reed boat over to the next island where the church, small store, restuarant, fish farm and overnight guest accomodation was located. I didn't spend my S/-10!

As we left I could see the other islands all set up in a similar set up each catering for different tourist groups. Yes overnight home stay are possible. The islands didn't really rock or move when you walked over it but the older sections stank a little bit due to the rotten reeds. 

Then the 2 1/2 hour ride to Taquile Island. Click and read the notices that I took at the jetty landing including no photos of the inhabitants and especially of the children without permission so I respected this.

The island has no vehicles and people walk everywhere in either bare feet or rubber tongs.

Terrace with potatoes and broad beans growing. I was expecting a 500 step climb up but to my surprise the wide stone paved path was easy to gently walk up to our open air lunch spot. I wish that I took a photo of the view overlooking the lake as we ate our farmed trout meal. Thank goodness that it wasn't raining or blowing!

A brief weaving demonstration was provided.

Then into the main square with that horrible looking 2 story glass fronted government building which the locals do not like at all. Here the children pestered us to buy their woven wrist bands. How could I not for just S/1?

I hope the values and lifestyle of these people is retained. The challenge will be like in the rest of the world is to how they will incorporate the modern changes that the young people are now facing.

Another much shorter straight path down to another jetty and then the long 2 1/2 hour trip back to Puno.

Back to Puno and at the Casa Adina tonight's dinner was another local dish: Saqta de gallina - traditional dish from the altiplano for S/38. Chicken mixed with onions and potatoes plus Andean cheese on top.
My local money was running out and as tomorrow I had the border crossing, had to pay for dinner via both my remaining Peruvian sole and US$.

Tomorrow a 6.10 am departure for my all day trip to La Paz. It will be a long day but not as long as another guest who had a 4 am wake up call so that his group could leave at 5 am for their Uros Island visit then join us at 6.30 am for the trip to Bolivia.

A representative from Trans Turin even came out to the hotel and gave me the Bolivian immigration forms and explained what was happening tomorrow. I was just expecting a message to be ready at ....
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