A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random adventures through South America,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

there's a house on the island in the reeds on the lake

i won't lie to you dear blog readers, the town of puno is rather boring.  yup, it's true.  but the one interesting thing to do there is take a boat tour of lake titicaca (please hold your inappropriate laughter).  one option is to actually stay with a native family overnight in their houses without heat or proper bathrooms.  but after our misadventures in cusco, we decided that a day trip was best for our failing health.

so we went to Uros first, which is a series of about 50 or so floating reed islands.  these islands are actually man-made out of reeds.  crazy.  apparently, when the spanish invaded 500 years ago, a group of several hundred puno inhabitants took to the lake and hid out on their boats for a while.  eventually they figured out a patented method of making islands out of the lake's reeds and they've been living there ever since.

dear blog readers, you may be asking yourself, "self, how is this possible?"

well, some nice ladies of the island explained to us the process.
1.  find a huge lake (preferably at a very high altitude above sea level) 
2.  make large blocks out of the roots of reeds (much like when you pull a plant out of a pot and all the roots and soil are clumped together)
3.  using rope and wooden stakes, bind together root blocks so that they are 6 feet in depth
4.  cover in 3 feet of freshly cut reeds
5.  find desirable location and anchor island
6.  add more reeds monthly
7.  tada!!! (jazz hands)

let me tell you dear blog readers, these were a crafty people.  i was a bit jealous.  they made everything out of reeds: boats, houses, look-out towers, festive decorations.  one island had even created a little "cuy island" where they were raising guinea pigs and rabbits.  this is quite brilliant because you can just put them on a little island where they'll be out of the way, and then drag the island in when necessary (aka slaughter time). 

now, one may question the quality of life on these islands.  but when i looked inside one of the houses i saw it was equipped with one of those old school 3-CD changer dual cassette deck stereos that were so popular in the mid-1990s.  at first i assumed that it ran on batteries.  but then i saw a solar panel.  that's right SOLAR PANELS!  these people live in reed huts, but even they have mastered solar power technology.

this leads which me to wonder why it is that we cannot get our act together in the US to utilize solar power.  reed huts ... with solar power.  wrap your mind around that.



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