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Lake Titicaca

Plan to visit Lake Titicaca and the floating islands of Uro, they are fascinating. Originally constructed by locals trying to flee the Inca conquerors, disappearing into the reeds and living from hunting birds and fishing. Today they are mostly a tourist attraction but people still live there in reasonable numbers, though the young are leaving to work in the city. The islands are about 30m by 20m, made entirely from reed, and about 2 metres thick. It is anchored to the lake bed (20m below) by ropes and the inhabitants have to add reeds continually to the surface to stay above water. Their homes are simple, one room affairs in which the whole family sleep.

Try to get out to Ilsa Taquile, with its pre-Inca ruins and extensive Inca terracing on the side of it`s hill that is still used for farming. It has a small village with a large square where there is a co-operative shop that sells good quality woollen goods but at a price. The entire Island is run on a co-operative system in which everyone is expected to work partly for themselves and mostly for the community and keep strictly to the rules. There is a hierarchy, of course, so some Islanders are more equal than others. There is also a strict dress code to distinguish between the unmarried and married and some hybrid fashion for widows and widowers. As a man, you cannot become an Elder unless you are married and as a woman you cannot become anything (other than a mother and workhorse). It is possible for a couple to live together unmarried, and even have babies, but only for 3 years and the male is free to end the relationship at any time. The babies are then expected to be cared for by the girl`s parents!

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