floating reed islands of lake titicaca

floating reed islands of lake titicaca

If you've got a lot of immature friends, you'll loathe telling them about your visit to Lake Titicaca, because you'll probably get a bunch of jokes about boobs and poop. Maybe you didn't even know it was a real place? Maybe you thought it was just something that 11-year-old boys made up as a fake place with a silly sounding name?

Well, Lake Titicaca is an actual lake on the border of Bolivia and Peru, and you should definitely go there to see the man-made floating reed islands where the Uru people live.

The Uru people use bundles of dried reeds to make these large floating islands, on which they live and work. They even have a school that's floating out there with them! The floating islands are made of reeds that grow in the lake. The Uru people harvest the reeds and weave them into a giant floating mat that is anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. Since the reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away quickly, they're constantly adding new reeds to the to the top of the island.  

When you're walking on these islands, you can absolutely tell which islands need to be re-thatched. Some were downright soggy! As you walk on the islands, that breaks up the "ground" beneath you, which makes the islands decay even faster.

You might think that these islands are right by the edge of the shore, but you'd be wrong. They're way out there--it's a boat ride. And you also might think that they don't actually live there, but you'd be wrong about that, too.  They have little thatched houses on these islands, and they get around between them (there are, like sixty different islands, each housing up to 10 families), in boats, which are also made with reeds. They do have motors for some of their boats, and solar panels for electricity.  But they're actually living there, fishing and making crafts to sell to tourists.

Oh, and about that fishing? They've domesticated cormorants to do their fishing for them. They tie a rope to the leg of the bird, the bird dives for fish, and the fisherman takes the fish from the bird and puts it in a basket. It's really kind of extraordinary.

Actually, all of it is extraordinary. I mean, these people are living on rotting reed mats out in the middle of a lake in the Andes. It's just incredible. You should go see for yourself. And let us know when you wanna do that, and we'll help get you there!

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