July 04, 2007


Visiting Lake Titikaka is not a wildlife adventure. Nearly everything that moves has become a part of the local diet, and as you journey out into the unknown depths by boat the only thing you can see are weeds, reeds and lots of water.

The real stars of the lake are the handful of inhabited islands, and the quirky lifestyle aboard the floating villages at Uros.

How do you float a village on a freshwater lake? Simply collect slabs of water reeds and stitch them together to form large floating platforms, then put down another layer of reed-stalks to provide a squishy but insulated foundation.

Homes can then be constructed for each family on the island, once again employing the craft of binding reeds together with rope.

The usefulness of Lake Titikaka aquatic plants seems boundless. Not only are the huts and the islands themselves made from reeds, but even canoes are constructed from elaborate bundles tied together and left to dry in the sun before setting afloat.

These villages remind me of my Nanna who learned to macramé stitch when she retired, and within months had decorated every inch of her home in wool. Only in the case of the floating villagers their raw materials are floating reeds.

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