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The Floating islands in Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake, the most sacred body of water in the Inca Empire and now the natural separation between Peru and Bolivia, has a surface area exceeding 8,000 square kilometers (3,100 square miles).
Titicaca is notable for a population of people who live on the Uros, a group of about 43 artificial floating islands made of reed, named after the Indians who inhabited them. These floating islands are the home of the Uros tribe, one which pre-dates the Incan civilization. Legend tells the Uro Indians had black blood that helped them survive the frigid nights on the water and safeguarded them from drowning; they existed before the sun, when the earth was still dark and cold. They were impervious to drowning or being struck by lightning. They lost their status as super beings when they disobeyed universal order and mixed with humans, making them susceptible to contempt. They scattered, losing their identity, language, and customs. They became the Uro-Aymaras, and now speak Aymara. They call themselves be kot-suρa, or people of the lake, and consider themselves the owners of the lake and its waters.
The Indians who now inhabit this island - a mix of Uro, Aymara and Inca descendants - follow the Uro ways. Some residents still live and die without ever leaving the island. Residents wear layers of clothing, mostly woolen, to protect themselves from the cold, the wind, and the sun. Many women still wear the distinctive derby type hat and full skirts.
The Uros islanders fish, hunt birds and live off lake plants, with the important element in their life being lake reeds they use for their houses, boats and even as the base of their islands. The dense roots that the plants develop support the islands. They are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The bottoms of the reed islands decay in the water and are replaced from the top with new layers, making a spongy surface that is uneven, thin, and some liken walking on a bit difficult to walk on, walking on these islands was sort of like walking on a waterbed. The unwary might not notice a thin spot and sink a leg or more into the frigid waters of the lake.
The islands change in size, and more are created as the need arises. The islands last about 30 years.
The soft roots of the reed are eaten, making it a pretty handy thing to have around. Food is cooked with fires placed on piles of stones to protect the reeds. To relieve themselves, tiny 'outhouse' islands are near the main islands. The waste is dried in the sun to avoid polluting the water.
The Uros originally created these artificial islands to escape the Inca, who dominated the mainland at the time. Around 3,000 descendants of the Uros are alive today, although only a few hundred still live on and maintain the islands; most have moved to the mainland. The Uro also bury their dead on the mainland.
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From Wikipedia, PERU GATEWAY TRAVEL, and Bonnie Hamre, Your Guide to South America for Visitors. FREE Newsletter

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Additional Photos by Rolf Becker (rbeckerb) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 40 W: 24 N: 61] (167)
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