|Hola amigos y famila,
Last stop in Peru was a visit to Lake Titicaca (South Americas largest lake) and the largest lake in the world above 2000m (at 3820m).
I took a 2 day tour visiting Islas Flotantes (the floating islands) of Uros. The islands are made of layers of totora reeds and are soft and springy to walk on (and quite damp). There are about 25 islands, inhabited by about 5000 people (but only about 5 are visited by tourists) and therefore quite touristy. The islands are also equipt with shops and schools. They use the reeds to make their homes, boats and crafts for the tourists so the locals seem completely self sufficient floating on the lake.
The highlight of the trip was visiting Isla Amananti where we stayed with local families. The people live in small houses made mostly of mud brick - with a little outhouse toilet and no electricity. Dinner was by candlelight sitting in a tiny kitchen around a makeshift stove on small chairs and sacks of wheat. They cooked with big cast iron pots. It was so cold I sat eating in my scarf, hat and gloves on (meanwhile they're wearing open sandles)...it was like a scene from Hansel and Gretal. Later they dressed us in traditional clothes where we all met for a traditional dance.
The islands seem to have fair and strong community spirit. They have a rotation system on the island where all the families take turns in receiving tourists. Even the 25 restaurants on another island rotate with each tourist group.
Prior to tourists staying on the islands (about 5 years ago) they could barely afford to feed themselves. The islands seem very isolated - my family only visits the mainland once every 3 months. A very humbling experience to say the least.