Who hasn’t dreamt at one time or another of living on a boat? Along with treehouses, floating houses hold a special place in the human imagination. The Uros people of Lake Titicaca take this dream and push it a little further: They have created their own floating reed islands that house their villages.
According to Uros tradition, they predated all other humans here and lived here even before the birth of the Sun itself on Isla del Sol. Also according to tradition, the Uros have black blood which protects them from the cold and from drowning. While the blood story may not be true, the Uros do have an incredible tolerance to cold, since the dried reeds that make up their homes don’t allow them to heat their houses due to the risk of fire.
The construction of the reed islands are true feat, as new reeds must be constantly added to the top to replace ones on the bottom that have dissolved into the water. Reed houses, stone stoves and fireplaces, and watchtowers all have to be supported by the island, as well as the weight of the residents and any possessions or animals they own. The reeds can also be eaten as a natural iodine supplement.
Sillustani is a pre-Incan site that consists of a group of huge cylindrical tombs. The towers of Sillustani are the most impressive of the burial towers constructed by the Colla people. They are distinctive because the Colla used brick-like rectangular edges, in contrast with the Inca who used stones of varying shapes.
The Colla, who were later incorporated into the Inca empire, constructed the towers to bury their nobility. The carefully carved stones are adorned with complicated carvings, some of which project out from the surface of the piece. It is important to also note that the openings in the tombs face east, where it was believed that the sun was reborn by “Pachamama,” or Mother Earth, each day.
At one end of the hill stands the tallest of the towers at 40 feet (12 m). From here you can enjoy views of Puno; on the other side it’s possible to see smaller towers set against the backdrop of Lake Umayo. Unfortunately, many of the tombs have been pillaged by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished by the original builders.
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