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  • Brian D. Hinson

The Stone Tombs & Stone Penises of Peru



I went to Peru to do the Inca Trail, my first high-altitude trek. But this isn’t about that. This is about that Lake with the name that sounds funny to an English-language tourist.


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On Lake Titicaca there’s the floating Uros Islands. They’re human-made from reeds, each floating island about six or so feet thick, and have to be maintained as the reeds at the bottom rot to nothing. The tortora reeds are also used to make about everything the Uros people need: their houses, their furniture, their boats with the animal heads. Walking on one of the islands feels a bit springy and very odd.


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Deeper into Lake Titicaca you’ll find Taquile Island. It’s the regular sort of island made of rocks and dirt and geology. It was carnival time when I was there, and there were colorful parades and wandering bands playing non-stop music. It’s nothing like New Orleans’ version, so don’t bother throwing anyone beads.


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Back on shore are the Sillustani tombs. They rise up like great stone silos fashioned from huge cut stones. The royalty of the Culla civilization have been laid to rest in these stone cylinders that rise about forty feet high and grow wider at their crest. These folks came before the Incas, and not much is known about them. They don’t even have a Wiki page.



And now, what you scrolled down for: stone penises. This is the Chucuito Temple of Fertility. It’s a stone walled yard full of dicks. When I was there in 1998, we were told the stories of how infertile women would come here for a ritual to give them the ability to conceive. Now, it looks like this joint might be a tourist-trap hoax. Click for an article with the deets. Still worth a visit for a giggle and a pic.


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Same can be said for Lake Titicaca. Not for the giggles, but for the natural splendor, the archeological wonders, the culture. And the sunburn. I thought I was perfectly covered in sunblock but I woke from a nap on a boat to discover my eyelids were burned. Badly.

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