19 October 2011

Uros Islands, LakeTiticaca

The Uros Islands lie on Lake Titicaca, just offshore from Puno. Hundreds of tourists visit them each day — I was one. The people who live on these floating islands were welcoming and good-humoured and I found the islands, constructed of constantly replenished layers of reeds, fascinating. As we listened to the explanation of how the islands were constructed, I could see ours undulating just perceptibly. The accomplishment seems remarkable; the islands support not just people, but livestock — I saw cattle and pigs (the two cats were popular subjects for tourists' photographs, too).

But whether the hundreds of tourists each day benefit the islands depends on what one considers a benefit. The subject of "authenticity" has intrigued me for a long time and I've had several good discussions about it with people I've met on this journey. I'd begun to lean towards the view that, in a sense, everything's authentic — this is how it is, now — but after visiting the Uros Islands I'm less sure of that.

I'm now in Bolivia, at Copacabana, recovering from another three-day headache :^(

[16 October 2011 [Peru], Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 100, 1/100 at f16]
All content © 2011 Pete McGregor


robin andrea said...

Interesting question about authenticity. I'd like to read more about your definition and reasoning. But wait until that headache has completely resolved. So sorry to hear about three days of that.

bigskymo said...

Cattle, pigs, humans and cats floating around on islands of reed? Sounds strange and amazing.
Tourism and authenticity seem like a dichotomy to me. I've lived in a few tourist towns - money ain't everything.

Hope you are feeling better.

pohanginapete said...

Robin, the ideas about authenticity are a work in progress. I thought more about it last night and suspect it'll continue to occupy my thoughts for a while. The headache's well and truly gone — it followed the usual pattern.

Maureen, I'm not sure it's as clear-cut as a dichotomy, but I've softened my views a little and now lean towards considering the "everything's authentic" view as extreme and not particularly useful. I certainly agree money isn't everything, too (but often it makes life easier!)

butuki said...

Difficult question, seeing as we all live within the frame of the world which created the "tourism economy". I think perhaps the single greatest denomination of our present civilization is "artificiality" (and perhaps why I nearly constantly feel like I am in a sphere of aching for something important lost), so what is created wherever our civilization touches that place, and its people, if they are to survive, become an imitation of themselves. Their prior uniqueness is what gives them survival value, otherwise it is drawn in and merged with the rest of the mire. Even our love of traveling, with our cameras, with our foreign money, with our impermanence, is the very essence of that artificiality, like an immense zoo, the exotic creatures the fare for the day.

Is it migraines you get? I used, too. I found that with eliminating sugar and wheat the migraines completely disappeared. When I started eating them again, the migraines returned.

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

I'm not sure I'd have believed such islands existed if it weren't you telling us ... if you know what I mean. The thought line about authenticity is provocative, but I'm not sure where I weigh in on it. As always, take care.

pohanginapete said...

Miguel, thanks for your typically thoughtful response. In particular, your comment about prior uniqueness got me thinking, and I can say definitely that the homogenisation of the world saddens me. Still, I'm fairly sure a static culture is a doomed culture, and a key point might be to consider how we decide what kinds of changes might be "authentic". All going well, I'll write more about this on the Pohanginapete blog.
    I don't think they're migraines, at least not in the common form. I've tried to identify what triggers them, but so far have had no success.

Barbara, thanks for the good wishes. I've been lucky so far... As for authenticity, I'm not sure either! My instinct tells me one thing, my reason another, and the challenge is finding an interpretation that reconciles the two.

Lydia said...

Beautiful shot.....but I am so sorry to read about your extended headache. Take care, Pete.

pohanginapete said...

Thank you Lydia. The headache's long gone now, and with luck I won't have another for a long time.

Zhoen said...

Houseboats gone huge. Man made environment. How about authentic, but contaminated by observers at the moment?

A friend who works in IT complained of a Heisenbug. An error that changed as he tested it, watched it.

pohanginapete said...

Zhoen, the observer effect fascinates (and I'm sure frustrates) me. I hadn't heard of the Heisenbug, though — I like that!