Having had my fill of dirt roads, poor food and Bolivia in general, it was with joy I crossed over the border into Peru. Goodbye 3rd world, hello 2nd 1/2 world (?).
My second stop on Lake Titicaca was on the Peruvian side to visit the floating islands of Uros. Located near the lakeside town of Puno, I enjoyed a short ferry ride over to these unique islands. Built from the reeds that grow naturally in the lake the locals have lived like this for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Two hours visiting three of the floating islands was enough time to realise that:
- the floating islands are cool.
- the local lifestyle has changed, our guide informed me that some houses now have DVD.
- tourism has destroyed all vistiges of traditional life on these islands. It is the only industry apparent on our visit, at every island we were greeted by half a dozen locals all selling exactly the same rugs, beanies, socks etc all manufactured in exactly the same factory somewhere in Peru.
A unique experience to visit the islands, ironic however that tourism is both the saviour and curse of the islands. Without tourism the islands are an anacronism and it is unlikely that they would survive, however the tourist trade has transformed them into something less than a normal community and more of a floating souvenir shop.