On the 1st of May we travelled from Arequipa to Puno with the intention of spending two days there and see the islands on lake Titicaca and maybe travel to Bolivia.
This side of Peru is so rich in myths, beliefs and old traditions. Puno itself keeps a lot of folklore. They have around 600 traditional dances and they are also rich in musicians. The municipality organises competitions, where apprently people can win considerable amounts of money.
The centerpiece (literally) of this city is its lake, Titicaca. With its altitude of around 3800 m, it is said to be the highest navigable lake in the world.
The 2nd of May was “islands day” for us. We set out by boat to travel to 2 islands: Uros and Taquille.
Uros is an artifical island made in an area on the lake very similar to the Danube Delta. Lots of reed. Basically, some of the pre-inkas living on the natural islands got “kicked out” or left the natural islands because of the inkas and they built their own out of reed making them sort of a floating “reed rafts” – let’s invent the term now. Inhabitants live like this even today.
Notice how all their island, including their houses were made out of these dried out reed. This island held 5 families. They are living off of the textiles and other manufactured items which they are selling in Puno for veggies and fruits.
This island is a different story. It’s much bigger, the population is around 2000 people. Again, the concept of community and autonomy is its most important characteristic. People live off of agriculture. They rotate 3 types of cultures every year: quinoa, corn/barley/wheat and potatoes.
There is no police. They have local authorities which are informed of any community issues. Every week or so they organise a local gathering in their main square and let the population decide on how they want to handle them.
There is also an interesting way they use their hats to differentiate between singles and married and also between local authorities and ex authorities.
Apparently this island belonged to the Spanish crown after it was conquested. However, some guy called Pedro Gonzales de Taquille bought it from the Spanish crown on 160 coins and moved on the island. He then proceeded to force all the native inkas living there to work for him and dress up in Spanish clothes. Sadly, this dilluted part of the inka culture.
On the island we were given some ideas on how to use a plant for altitude sickness and also how to make shampoo out of another. I find it really interesting how they managed to use the resources they had to live this autonomous, natural and simple life. Mosr orobably, the farthest distance most of them travel to is to Puno just to get any vegetables or fruits they can’t cultivate in exchange for their artwork and agriculture. Simple and easy.. Right?