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THE UROS

Totora islands

The individuals that compose this floating community affirm they are the owners of the waters of the Titicaca

Blued infinity. Lashes of wind. Remote caws. Hills that are shown off in the horizon. sporadic of the clouds shed tears. In an unfriendly sun in a foggy morning, a bellowing and honorable craft opens path in the serene waters of the Titicaca or Puma of Stone, the highest navigable lake in the world (3,809 m.s.n.m.).

Behind it is the lacustrine port of Puno. Their houses get smaller, shrink, become points devoured by the landscape. To the front is Titicaca in all its immensity: sails that spread in the distance and swell with the gusts of the wind, thick white clouds pierced by sharp luminous rays, islands shine like gold.

I disembark in the island Santa Marķa. Peruvian flags, a floating school, a raft with a feline face, a bouquet of shacks of a single room. Strange sensations in a strange place: your feet that sink in a little, the "earth" that dances to the tempo of Titicaca, the water that filters through the interwoven roots and threatens to flood everything.

"Our life is not easy", assures Don Carlos, before welcoming the sun and to say goodbye to his old blanket. "Many of us leave to Puno and come from time to time to the island, but I am always here.

I have never thought of leaving", and his voice is a thread of sadness that breaks when retelling that in February, during the party of the carnival, everyone gets wet and they play in the lake."

Proud of his town, the man is convinced that he will spend the rest of his life in the island Santa Marķa. And every day he will wait in the sun, to the fishermen, the bustling tourists that wrapped him with flashes of silver and greet him with intricate words.

And every day he will renounce the cold, the breathing wrongs, the humidity, the rheumatism that attacks the oldest, the nets that break and of those "pejerreyes" and "carachamas" that no longer bite like before... the island disappears in the horizon. Don Carlos will always be on her.

Texts and photographs: Rolly Valvidia Chavez



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