Every wonder how to make a floating island? The Aymara people of southern Peru have perfected the art over hundreds of years and call islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca home.
The tradition of living on the water began hundreds of years ago when people started creating islands in order to escape paying taxes to the Incan empire. Nowadays, they continue living there as they know no other life.
When someone needs to create a new island, their first step is to head over to the shoreline of the lake where reeds grow very densely. Using a saw, they cut off a chunk of the matted roots to serve as the base of their island. The base is then hauled into position with boats. The matted roots are around one meter thick.
In order to prevent the island from moving, it is anchored into position using ropes and long poles. It can move during storms or high winds, but will be towed back into position and reanchored.
Once the new island is in position, they cut more reeds and pile them on top of the base. Carefully placing the reeds in varying directions, they pile up layer upon layer of reeds - three meters of reeds! The island is now around four meters thick.
They build houses and sheds from yet more reeds and live a simple, yet comfortable, life on the water.
In many ways, life for the Aymara people of Lake Titicaca hasn't changed in hundreds of years - they still live on their floating islands and use boats made of reeds. But now, it is not uncommon to find solar panels powering TVs in the reed houses!
Nancy Sathre-Vogel is currently cycling from Alaska to Argentina with her husband and 12-year-old twin sons. She is documenting their journey for Guinness World Records at www.familyonbikes.org She also write for The Washington Times Communities and is the World Bike Touring Examiner.