Sunday, April 14, 2013

Islas de los Uros, Lago de Titikaka, Peru

On the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca near the village of Puno there are about 68 floating islands made entirely by hand of reed, or totora as it is called in the local language.  The people speak Quechua as well as Spanish and sometimes Aymara, which was the language of the people who lived long before the Inca.

From a small port in Puno we took a boat to visit the people who have been making their lives on the floating islands for many generations.  I learned a lot about how the people of the islands made their livlihood and managed to survive and keep their traditions for many many years.

About 14 nuclear families live on the floating islands.  Each island must be maintained frequently and  every 25 yeras the island must be rebuilt completely.  

A floating hospital clinic.

"Kamisaraki" (greetings in Quechua language)

The triangular houses belong to a member of the family called El Presidente who functions as the leader and manages inter-familiar affairs.

Walter, El Presidente of the island we came to visit, shows us how the islands are made and maintained.

For each island a great number of mud blocks are gathered with alternating rows of totora which functions as the land which you live on.  A special tool is used to cut the blocks from under the cold water.  On the outskirts of the islands totora is grown as a crop and used to maintain the islands.

The local women of the village make hadicrafts and tapestries which are sold in the village of Puno to generate revenue for their families.

The tapestries (which I did not manage to snap a photo of) each depict scenes which tell a lot about the culture of the people.  Pachamama is the Earth Mother, Pachatata is the Father of the Universe, Vericoha is the sun which has given human form to a man who became the first Inca king and the Puma is depicted as a sacred animal.

Cooking tools.

Estafania and her mother.

Titikaka is a mix of two words from Aymara and Quechua which means Puma and Stone, which resemble the shape of the lake when viewed from South to North.

Totora MookFish

Walter, El Presidente and a boat which took about five months to make.  I have one tattooed on my right forearm.. but nobody really cared :)

The village of Puno, Peru

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