Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A P-day Visiting the Floating Islands and Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca

The Uros Khantati Islands or the Floating Islands

The Uros tribe predates the Incan Civilization.  This ancient civilization lives on what is known as the floating islands on Lake Titicaca.   We took a $20 tour while in Puno (which is on the shore of the lake). The tour included a driver that picks you up at your hotel and delivers you to your hotel afterwards, the boat ride, lunch and the tour of the floating islands and the island of Taquile. It is a bargain, especially when we were asked if we would like to join the group on the fast boat to fill it up at no extra cost.  The difference between the fast boat and the slow boat is two hours.  Of course we were happy to oblige and jumped on the fast boat. It was full of people from all over the world and I know they were spending a lot more than we did for the tour.  

We have to travel light which means our backpacks which are full of our computers, cords, printer, printer paper, my family booklets, etc. and then we have a small carry on suitcase with extra clothes, so that is why Elder Poulsen is wearing a suit on P-Day.

The tour guides here go to a special school in Puno to qualify to guide these tours and they are very knowledgeable about the history and geography of this area and they speak English really well.  A tour guide makes almost 5 times the average wage in Peru not including tips. 

This what Puno looks like as we are leaving the shore.
You can see the houses on the floating islands through these reeds.  The reeds are what their islands are made of.  They have to put a new layer on top every week. Cutting these reeds and bringing them back to the Island is the daily work of the men.  

The islands are tethered to the bottom of the lake with ropes and large rocks.  If they want to move the island they just cut it lose.  They used to be more spread out but right now they stay together because it is easier for the tourists to visit.  Below is the President of the islands and each boat that arrives is given an island to visit, that way each island gets a turn to earn income from the tourists. There are about 70 islands, during the slow season they may only get one visit a month from the tourists. During the busy season they may get as many as three visits a month.  This is their only income for medicine, education and supplies they cannot obtain on their island.  You will notice the solar panels. These are each about $2,000.  I wonder if someone gave them these, it seems like a lot of money for the Uros.

The women come to greet us.  This is our assigned island and as the women helped us off the boat they called us Hermano and Hermana.  Yes, they were members of the Church.  Lyle left the tour to go visit with them.  They said that 43% of people on the islands are members of the Church.

In the beginning these people lived on boats made of reeds, then they figured out how to make island out of the reeds.  The first houses were in the shape of a Tee-Pee and then they started making the square houses.
This is the highest navigable lake in the world.

This is the Tribal Chief for our island, he is telling us (and the tour guide is translating) the history of the islands.  Originally the boats and island were a place of safety from their enemies.

Here he is demonstrating how you can take this saw blade and cut through the island.  He said if someone is not happy living with the others on the island, he can just cut off a piece of the island, detach it from the bottom of the lake and float it to another location.

After talking with the women on the Island that are members, Lyle made friends with one of their babies.
The baby is holding a fried cake his mother just made on the stove below.  The stove is a clay rocket stove with three burner holes.  They burn the reeds to cook with.  They wet the reeds under the fire enough that they do not burn.  They also peel the reeds and eat the inside pulp,  It is amazing how versatile these reeds are.

These ladies are the members he was talking to.  They closed the Branch they were going to and asked them to boat into Puno to go to Church. They are just too isolated here.  Even the young missionaries in our mission are no longer allowed to go to the islands, even if it is a P-day tour.  The young missionaries are sad about that, they can go to Machu Picchu, but not these islands. 

She is just taking out her braids.  I am sure the mothers make sure the children look their best when the tourists arrive. Once we are here then they think they don't have to impress us any more and out go the tight braids.

Of course they have gifts for sale, most are handmade.

These are small replicas of the big boats they used to live on .  For 10 soles ($3.00) you can ride around the islands on them.

This is one of the Church members Lyle was visiting with earlier.  Her baby just comes along with her.

The other woman that was rowing went around the boat to collect the fare for the ride and she asked Lyle to take her place.  The woman on the other side (in the above picture) sat down and started nursing her baby while she was rowing.  Everyone nurses in public here.  So there Lyle is in charge of getting the boat where it belongs and he has no idea where he needs to dock the boat.  Apparently, he docked it in the wrong spot.  Oh well!

Here Lyle is playing with his new friend. Check out the skin on the baby's face.  It is a rough place to live.

This lady invited us in to her house and told us we could take pictures, Then she showed us this little boat she wanted to sell us, she said it took her two months to make it.  Guess who bought it- yes, it is coming home with us.
This lady is demonstrating how they grind the grain for the little cakes they make that resemble Navajo fry bread. 

The houses they live in.

Another island

These are the islands that we could see on our little boat ride.  There are more elsewhere.

Taquile Island

After our visit with the Uros , we had a fast boat ride to Taquile Island.  We could see the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Bolivia from there.  This is another isolated Island, where the people there still live the traditional life of their ancestors and still wear the traditional clothing that they weave.  Men and women both weave on pre-Hispanic fixed and pedal looms.  Two of the characteristic items they weave are the knitted caps with ear flaps and the calendar waistbands.  The population is 2,200.
View from the top.  It is hard to believe that this is fresh water - it looks like the Ocean.
Spinning yarn with a spindle.
Knitting a hat.

This spindle turns like a top.

Check out the hinges.  They were once tires that were later used for sandals and now are used as hinges.
A simple church in the small town square.

They still use these hoes to till the ground.

Lyle is checking out what the men are knitting -mostly waistbands, scarves and hats.

Yes, she did jump and she did hurt herself and cried a little, then ran right back up again to the top of this wall.

Eating at on top of this island with a view of the Lake reminded us of our camping spot in San Carlos.  The people we shared the table with  are from Germany, the husband spoke English.  They were fun to get to know.  
The lunch is prepared for the tourist by five families. They are assigned as groups by the leader of the Island, so that all the residents can have a turn feeding the tourists and earn extra money.  They served soup, fresh bread, fried trout with potatoes and vegetables.  The food was delicious.  Afterward they demonstrated their traditional dances and music.
Dancing with the tourists.

This man also demonstrated how a particular plant on the island is used as a natural soap.

The traditional clothes of the men.  The type of hat you wear and how you wear it signifies if you are married or single.
 To the right of the above picture is a tiny museum of photos of the island.  We went inside to look around and the man and lady in charge called us Hermana and Hermano - more members of the Church. Our missionary badges make friends for us everywhere. They are so isolated here.  It is sad that the Church leaders decided that the members need to come to Puno to attend church, it seems like they have been abandoned. It is so hard to get the kind of leadership they need on this tiny island. The members on the floating islands are much closer to the main land than these people are and even they don't come to Church very often.   It was great to hug and visit with them.
Tilling the ground with the traditional hoe and this is not a show for tourist this is the real thing.
Look at the colorful hat she is wearing. We haven't seen this style before.

This is a steep climb to the top where the town square is, but the view at the top is worth it. This man is really sweeping the sidewalk, it is his job. Check out that load he is caring.

That was a great P-day, we will have to do that again somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! Very nice photos and so bright, big and compelling!