Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It's waters, nestled in the mountains that divide Peru and Bolivia, are clear and cold. From Puno, it was a thirty minute boat ride to get to the floating island. It was believed (and probably still is by a few) that Viracocha, the creator god, created the land as a valley for his chosen people to live in peace. However, they could not venture past the valley. Of course, as the story goes, the people did venture past the valley to try to expand their wisdom to the level of Viracocha's. After this, Viracocha was so grief stricken that he cried for forty days and forty nights, filling the valley with the waters of Lake Titicaca. You can see that biblical influence crept in over the years, especially since priests and monks were probably the ones transcribing this oral tradition.
Stepping onto the floating island, the faux ground moved under my feet. It was a small island with a place to raise fish, little huts, a chicken coop, and boats. Supposedly, the people originally started building floating islands because of the Spanish Conquest. It was said that the people fled into the reeds on the lake, but when the water rose, they had to construct the islands. The islands are built from huge pieces of reed root, and they are anchored together and covered with layers of reed. The people have been living like this ever since the Spanish. They can go to the peninsula for supplies if they need them, but they are a self sufficient community for the most part.
As we were about to leave the island, a small black cat appeared. I saw it step off a boat. I'm not sure if it's a regular on the island or just visiting like the rest of us. It was very friendly, but it took me by surprise to see it.
|Mountains of Bolivia in the distance|
After the floating islands, it was another two hours until the small island of Amantaní where we were staying for the night. My next post will be about Amantaní.