Inspired, bamboozled and disgusted in Uros

Puno, Peru is 3800m above sea level -- it's one thing to climb a 12,000-ft mountain but it is another completely to stay there. So, the first thing that the hotel offered us when we landed was a cup of coca tea as it is supposed to help altitude sickness.

But coca is a narcotic and while the hot tea was nice, the narcotic left me sleepless and nursing a massive headache all night. The next day, still nursing my headache, we went off on a boat tour of Lake Titicaca, the huge lake on the border of Bolivia and Peru.

Uros is a set of inhabited reed islands. The islanders cut these reeds off the lake bottom, and build up a 3-foot bed of reeds. On that bed, they then build their houses. Pretty awesome.
The islanders supposedly make a living by fishing and weaving. What they really do is to make a living selling trinkets to tourists. Each reed island supports 4 to 5 families and the islands take turns hosting tour boats. Once a tour boat arrives, the islanders do a quick demo, take you inside their homes and let you take pictures wearing their costumes. By then, you are total jelly and they pull out the rugs and reed boats. How does one bargain with people who've opened their homes to you and let you try on their skirts?

I don't know if the tour guide was pulling our leg but he explained that the reed people made their own shampoo. Women apparently collected their husbands' early morning urine, let it sit for several weeks and then used the residue as shampoo. So, when I saw this woman washing her hair, I didn't know what to think.
The job of deciding what to think of women using their husbands' urine as shampoo is hereby delegated to you.

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