Uros, The Floating Islands

Uros, also known as the floating islands on Lake Titicaca are so interesting! In 1986, there was a big storm and some of the people went to Copachica and to other sectors of the lake. This explains why some speak Quechua, and others Aymara.

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In total, there are 270 families live on the floating islands (so about 2000 people)

Before, they usedΒ  boats made of totora and had the mini house on it, until the people discovered that the totora roots floated. Now, the roots are used as a base for the island and they float. Afterwards they tie the root blocks together and start layering with the totora. The island is then tied underwater to a eucalyptus wooden pole of about 5-6m so that it stays in place. The advantage of this, is that the island can be moved if you do not get along with neighbors. They untie the island and pull it somewhere else, or a boat can help push them.

The islands are a lot of work and they must constantly take care of it. They criss-cross the totora leaves one on top of the other and every 15 days they must add totora to the base of the island. The roofs of the houses are good for 6 months then they need to change it completely. The walls can last a year and then must be changed. An island can last about 40 years. The people use solar panels are used for electricity

We stayed with Elsa and Juan who have been married 17 years. They have a daughter who is 17 years old, a son of 14-15 years and they just had a 4 month baby. Elsa and Juan love to take and look at pictures. Juan told us that he is slowly saving up to buy his own camera. They met on the islands and are both from Uros. Elsa went to work in ArequipaΒ  when she was younger and when she came back, Juan says that he caught her and didn’t let her go!

We went for a totora boat ride and to drop the fishing lines with Juan. We also listened to the birds, and he told us that they name the birds according to the sound they make (in Aymara). The Kanola bird is the one that does not fly, it dives to get fish. It builds it’s nest on the water and has only 3 eggs. The babies are kept on the mothers back and because of this, sometimes only one will stay alive. The reserve says that they are instinct but Juan and the people think that there are still many.

We saw an amazing sunset from the boat and had a great meal. The next morning before leaving, Juan showed us how they cut the totora. I tried to do it as well, but it is really difficult! (and he makes it look so easy!)

We also checked our fish lines but only caught 5 little fish, that we gave to a Martin bird that comes to the island.

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