We boarded a boat to go to Taquile Island, several hours out into Lake Titicaca, where we would stay overnight with a family. Shortly after leaving Puno harbor, however, we stopped for a couple of hours on a floating island, inhabited by the Uros people. From Wikipedia:
"Uros are a pre-Incan people that live on forty-two self-fashioned floating island in Lake Titicaca Puno, Peru and Bolivia. They form three main groups: Uru-Chipayas, Uru-Muratos and the Uru-Iruitos. The latter are still located on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and Desaguadero River.
The Uros use bundles of dried totora reeds to make reed boats (balsas mats), and to make the islands themselves.
The Uros islands at 3810 meters above sea level are just five kilometers west from Puno port. Around 2,000 descendants of the Uros were counted in the 1997 census, although only a few hundred still live on and maintain the islands; most have moved to the mainland. The Uros also bury their dead on the mainland in special cemeteries.
Uros children before going to school
The Uros do not reject modern technology: some boats have motors, some houses have solar panels to run appliances such as televisions, and the main island is home to an Uros-run FM radio station, which plays music for several hours a day.
Early schooling is done on several islands, including a traditional school and a school run by a Christian church. Older children and university students attend school on the mainland, often in nearby Puno."
(click to enlarge) Almost everything is made from reeds.
(click to enlarge) Demonstration of how the island base is constructed