Exploring the Indians on the Floating Island

Lake Titicaca, one of the world’s largest large freshwater lakes, is located at the junction of Peru and Bolivia. It is owned by the two countries and is a holy lake in the minds of Indians. On Lake Titicaca on the side of Peru, there are more than 120 small islands woven by reeds. Currently, there are about 2,000 Ulu people in one of the oldest Indian ethnic groups living on these “floating islands”. Cultural practices passed down from generation to generation by Indian ancestors. With the opening and development of tourism in Peru, the “floating island” has attracted the attention of tourists from all over the world, and the mysterious veil of the Ulu tribe has gradually been unveiled.

Set up on the island you created

The Ulu people are a branch of the ancient Indians. It is said that the Ulu people existed before the birth of the sun and when the earth was still dark. Their blood was black, not afraid of the cold, and was the master of the lake. Due to the unique beliefs and way of life of the Ulu people, they suffered from the persecution and pursuit of the Indian tribes. In order to escape the rule of the Inca Empire, 500 years ago, the reeds of Lake Titicaca, which the Ulu people did not want to be slaves, escaped. Secluded in the bush, survived by eating reed shoots. On the Lake Titicaca, there is a kind of cattail grass similar to reed, the leaves are slender, up to three or four meters, standing proudly on the lake, this plant has a strong floating performance, the Ulu people take the local materials, will The thick cattails are stacked one on another to form a large buoyancy, and a “floating island” is built up and settled down, so that generations will be born.

In the small town of Puno, Peru, near the border, dozens of “floating islands” scattered on Lake Titicaca constitute a peculiar “floating island” tribe. Since 1978, the floating island has become part of the Titicaca National Nature Reserve. The largest floating island can only accommodate 10 households, while the smallest island is only about 100 square meters, with only two or three households living. In order to make the floating island more stable, the Ulu people used the ropes of the reeds to tie the islands together with the anchors of the lake. As the cattail grows, the thick roots interweave to form a natural base about 1 to 2 meters thick. Supporting the entire island. However, in the long-term soaking of the lake, the cattail grass on the bottom of the island will gradually become moldy and sink. Every few weeks, the Ulu people need to lay new cattail on the ground. Because of the erosion of rain, the thatched cottages also need to be removed and refurbished frequently, and new grass is constantly added to the roof.

Usually a floating island has a life span of only ten years and no more than 30 years. Once its bottom touches the bottom of the lake, it will be abandoned because it can no longer float.

Woven into a “home”

The author took a boat to one of the floating islands. When I stepped onto the island, I was surrounded by the thick reeds. Walking on the island would inevitably be frightened because the soles of the feet were like cotton, and there was fear of water seeping. Come, take a complete island in 5 minutes and find that the “grass board” is actually very stable. It is a bit swaying when you walk, but it doesn’t feel like “floating” like a boat.

There are only four households on the island. The large and small huts are all woven with cattails. The walls and roofs are made up of a matted mat. There is no window and there is only one door for access. Only the house used for sleeping, there is no kitchen and toilet. When cooking, the “cooking table” that is piled up in outdoor stone is used. It is necessary to wet the surrounding reed grass to avoid fire. The Ulu people’s costumes are not much different from the Peruvians of other ethnic groups. Unmarried women usually wear two large and thick scorpions of brightly colored hats to attract the opposite sex, and married women can choose dark-colored hats. The little girl in a long fluffy dress took us to visit her “home”, and our four visitors curled up and sat down and packed the entire hut with a straw bed, a few pieces of clothing, and a straw The small table, with a table lamp on it, should be powered by batteries. This is all her family and her parents.

The cattail grass is full of treasure in the eyes of the Ulu people. The white meat of the roots is the “fruit” of the Ulu people, rich in the rich iodine required by the human body. When people have a fever and get sick, the cattail leaves are broken into thin slices from the middle and placed on the forehead to cool down. Next to the island is a boat for islanders commuting. Of course, it is also woven with cattail grass. The yellow boat is tilted up at both ends and looks very like a banana. There are two children playing on the island, obviously they don’t have electronic equipment or the Internet. Their toys are dolls and boats woven from cattail grass.

Ancient and modern lifestyle

Does the Ulu people live a life that is isolated from the world? Actually not exactly. Residents of floating islands still retain the original barter trade model, but they also use the Peruvian currency. They mainly depend on fisheries for their livelihoods. They also catch birds such as ducks and seagulls and collect duck eggs. Once a week, the islanders bring freshly harvested seafood, dried fish and ducks to the local market to trade with land-based residents in exchange for food such as quinoa or other daily necessities. Nowadays, many islanders who speak Spanish speak about tourism, actively contact foreign travel agencies, enthusiastically receive tourists, and sell their handmade products, which is also the main source of their income.

Of course, with the contact with the outside civilized society, many new generations of Ulu people left the floating island and chose to go to land to start a new life. Although the material living conditions of floating islands are extremely simple compared with modern industrial society, they can live on the most holy Lake Titicaca in the minds of Indians. Many Ulu people express their inner feelings of great luck.

Every morning, the children will leave the floating island by boat to go to school in the city. The men will go fishing with a banana boat, and the women will do housework and manual work. In the evening, the men and the children returned to the island, and the women laid down their hands to meet their families. 3 to 10 households living on the same floating island form a large family, cooking together for dinner. With the sunset of Lake Titicaca, the Indians who love to sing and dance sit around and dance, thanking nature for their gifts.