DAILY PHOTO: Colorful Peruvians on a Floating Island

Taken in July of 2010 on Lake Titicaca

Taken in July of 2010 on Lake Titicaca

No, that’s not land. It’s an island made of reeds that’s floating on Lake Titicaca. It’s a pain in the butt to live there because of the long boat commute for school, shopping, errands, or work. However, there’s no property tax because, well… there’s no property.

DAILY PHOTO: The Floating Isles of Lake Titicaca.

We're being shown how they make the islands with a scale-model.

We’re being shown how they made the islands via a scale-model.

The floating islands of Lake Titicaca began as a way for pre-Incan people to avoid subjugation by the Incans. Today they exist for the twin purposes of tourism and tax evasion. The latter is the result of a loophole whereby individuals living on floating islands are not taxed (terra firma island residents are taxed like all others.) Of course, one’s earning potential is quite limited when living on a floating island. I suspect these villages make money from the tour boat operators. They definitely earn money from handicraft sales and “tips” from the tourists — the latter often in exchange for short boat rides on reed boats and photos (either pics of the locals or pics of oneself dressed  up in their traditional garb.)

If you can deal with the “ground” squishing under your feet, you should definitely make the ride out to these islands while you’re in the Peruvian Andes. Take a bus to Puno, Peru and from there it’s easy to find a boat at the docks. Make sure to visit Amantani and Tequile islands while you’re at it (these are actual islands.)