Floaty Ground and Hats


Two days ago we went to Uros islands.  The Uros islands are floating on Lake Titikaka.  They make island with reeds and slowly pile more and more reeds on top when the old ones get  dry until your island touches the bottom of the lake.  On the island that we went to, the lake is 18 1/2 metres deep.  That’s a lot of reeds!  During the rainy season, the reed’s root-clumps detach from the bottom of the lake and you get reeds floating on clumps of dirt that are a metre thick!  They tie hundreds of these together and place reeds on top of them, side-to-side, front-to-back, then diagonal both directions.  Then they build houses out of reeds and install the radios, TV’s, lights, and solar panels.  Apparently the president of Peru couldn’t sleep knowing that the Uros didn’t have electricity. 

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Once we got to the island, we sat down on a big reed bench.  Edwin, the “president” of the island, showed us how they made the islands and they pulled a big chunk of root-clump up and put his hand right into the water!  He said that there are six families on the island, 23 people.  The total Uro population is about 2000.  There is a “mayor” too, who is the boss of all 2000 Uros.  Later they split us up into groups of four, so I was with a German guy, a Brazilian girl, and a Peruvian girl.  The German guy didn’t understand very much Spanish, the Peruvian girl had to translate for him into English, so it was okay.  The woman who was showing us her house had no children, so she had a pretty small house.  Sean and Dad went to the president’s house!

After visiting the Uros, we rode for two hours and got to the island Taquile, where some descendents of the Incas live.  They have this big thing with hats, each hat having a meaning.   Boys under the age of five wear a frilled hat with red on the bottom, white on the top.  Girls of the same age wear a frilled hat with red of the bottom, brown on the top.  Once the boys turn five, they wear a hate that is red on the bottom, white on the top with no frill.  That means that they are single men.  When they marry, they make an unfrilled hat that is all red.  When girls reach the age of five,  they have to wear a black shawl.  Our guide told us that single women have a shawl with big pompoms, married women have small pompoms.  But we couldn’t see any pattern at all, most wore big pompoms, even the ones with children, and some children who were six or seven years old had small pompoms.  So I don’t think there is any pompom pattern at all.   

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