Thanksgiving to Remember – Part 3

Friday morning, we were at the dock by 8:00AM to catch our boat for our tour of Lake Titicaca and a couple of the nearby islands. It is the highest, navigable lake in the world. As I said earlier, it is located at 12, 497 ft, covers an area of 3,305 miles and has a maximum depth of 928 ft. Lake Titicaca is shared sovereignty with Peru and Bolivia.
On the Peruvian sides of Lake Titicaca, there are several islands. Amantani and Tequile are natural islands. The 40 islands of Uros are the man-made floating islands. Our first stop was on one of the islands where they demonstrated how they make the islands out of the totora reed, which grows in the lake. These islands are anchored down, with ropes so they don’t float away. Then, the islands are covered with the totora reed. The reeds on the bottom rot fairly quickly, so new reeds are constantly being put on top of the island to maintain it. These islands last for about 25 years. It was interesting walking on the island as it was kind of springy, the reeds giving way as you walked. My feet never got wet, just had a little more bounce to my walk!
There are anywhere from 2-3 families on a smaller island and up to 10 families on the larger island. The kitchen is a community kitchen with an open fire for cooking. The houses are made of dried totora reeds. These houses are basically one room and used primarily for sleeping and keeping dry during the rainy season. One house can be moved by four men.
Not only do they use the totora reed for building their islands, houses and boats, but also they use it for food. The bottom, white part of the reed they eat for the iodine, which prevents goiters. They also harvest these reeds and use them to barter for supplies in the town of Puno. Fish, birds and the healthy grain of quinoa, are used to supplement their diet.
It was all very interesting. Then, for an extra 5 soles ($1. 35 appx), we were treated to a boat ride in one of the boats made from the bundles of dried reeds. It was a great, fun experience.

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