Puno, Peru; Lago Titicaca, Uros, Taquile

Latitude 15.84088°S Longitude 70.02595°W

Saturday, January 11, 2003

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We stopped over in Puno for a few nights on our route south into Bolivia. The township was a primitive hole in the ground, better avoided. However, located on the shores of the huge Lake Titicaca, Puno was a convenient base for exploring the lake and the island communities.

The bus trip from Arequipa to Puno was a real highlight. By sheer luck, we had managed to reserve the 2 front seats on the top floor of a double-decker bus, affording continuous vistas of the beautiful highlands.

We took a tour that visited the floating reed islands of Uros and the tranquil island Taquile. Both were fascinating places. The Uros people nowadays live on floating islands that they construct themselves completely out of reeds. When we stepped onto one of their islands, it was like walking on a water bed! In fact, the islands can even be towed to new destinations if the inhabitants so desire! Islanders subside purely on fishing and hunting birds.

Taquile was a peaceful, colorful, laid back island, a fascinating place to take in the locals, their handicrafts and customs. One of the many interesting customs on the island is that everyone learns the skill of weaving from a very young age - and everywhere on the island you can see men, women, boys and girls engaged in knitting hats and other clothes. Furthermore, each family has a set of signature designs and patterns that are exclusively theirs - these having been handed down for countless generations. Another quaint tradition is that married men wear red hats bearing the design of their family, while single men wear hats with a prominant white marking designating their bachelor status. And single women traditionally wear yellow and white shirts.

Photos: (click on images to see full size)

Scenery en route to PunoScenery en route to PunoScenery en route to PunoThe floating reed islands of UrosThe natives subside on reeds and fishCute Uros girl
The "ground" is made of reeds and feels like a waterbed!Everything in Uros is made of reeds!Including the boatsAnd the Post Office!The Post Office clerkKeiko, Keely and Suzanne kick back
A long way from home on TaquileA local Taquile girlTaquile elders staging their weekly pow wowLocal women at the weekly pow wowCute Taquile girlAnd friendly too!
Local hat stylesThe port on TaquileRubber soles double as door hinges!

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