Tierra del Fuego — THE FLOATING ISLANDS OF UROS Puno, Peru 31 December 2018 Miles: 5,517 Allegedly there are 90 floating islands near Puno, Peru. The families living on them live in harmony until ... they don’t. Then, using a long steel saw, they simply cut-off the offending family’s piece of island and float it away, anchoring it elsewhere in Lake Titicaca. Every 2 months they must add new layers of reeds to the islands, to keep them afloat; and every 30 years must cut large blocks of floating, spongy soil from the lake floor, tying them together to form the base of a new island. Small stone platforms serve for cooking fires, but first the reeds around them must be soaked in water, to prevent fires. Strict codes dominate. Single women wear hats with white pompoms; married women wear black pompoms. Couples must live together for 5 years before they’re allowed to marry (an old Incan custom). If children are produced, marriage is mandatory. Approximately 2000 people live on the islands. A matriarch must be consulted by each boat filled with tourists, to determine which islands to visit; as they take turns entertaining the visitors. Profits from any sales or donations are communal property. What surprised me were how stable the islands were, how organized the tours. Five families lived on the island I visited. Several of us were encouraged to sit inside one of the single-lady’s hut, and introduce ourselves. Inside we found a mattress, clothes hanging on the walls, and . . . electric lights. Solar panels, on poles, stuck up towards the sun on most islands. And soon, the islands will be outfitted with sanitary toilets, now being manufactured ashore. Some already are. I took a short ride on a reed boat, and claimed a comfy seat at the stern. A relaxing and perfect spot, I thought, unless it started to rain. These islanders seemed almost lost in time, still following ancient rituals and customs, yet incrementally adapting to the “modern” world, too: tourist visits managed by a matriarch; sanitary toilets being installed; solar panels; outboard-powered reed boats; and so on. Still, how remarkable to visit these floating islands, to jump back in time and witness firsthand a small slice of their world!