Puno

After arriving back in Cusco, the next day, we took a short flight to Juliana then a bus to Puno. Puno is the city closest to the border in Bolivia and nearest to Lake Titicaca. I read the lake is noted as a possible origin of the Inca civilization and the lake itself is the worlds largest navigable lake. It is 100 miles wide and 935 ft deep. The lake is split between the border of Peru and Bolivia. We only visited the Peru side because for Americans the Bolivia visa is a few hundred dollars.  
First stop on the lake tour was to the Uros islands, floating reed islands. The islands are patched together by dirt, bound by reeds and float. Each island has about 6-8 families living on it. Their livelihood is mostly fishing and tourism. The tourism money allows them to go to the mainland to buy things like sugar and vegetables. The huts are made of reeds too and have solar panels so they can have light on the rainy days. The children of each of these islands, row 30 minutes to another island to get to school. School is only available until primary school and the life expectancy is around 60 years old. Living on the reeds is always wet and the adults mostly all have arthritis. They also eat the reeds which taste kind of like celery but more fibrous. It supposedly has calcium. The reeds can also be used to put on your forehead to reduce symptoms of a fever.  
The next island we visited was Taquile, a Unesco protected site. It is one of the largest islands on the Peru side. We learned about local island customs and agriculture. I was most impressed by a plant which turns into shampoo. The shampoo can be used for cleaning your hair and sheep’s wool. The wool when sheared is grey but when cleaned turns a brilliant white.  
Around Puno, we also visited Sillustani ruins, an archaeological complex with circular stone towers, used as mausoleums.  The tombs date to 1100 a.d. from the Kolla culture.   

    
    
               
    
    
   

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