The floating hotels on the islands of Los Uros
Content submitted by – Lili
Submited Date : 28/06/2018
Cristina Suaña with the Dutch couple who suggested she sets up her own cottage

I am Cristina Suaña, and I live in the floating islands of Los Uros Khantati. This is my story… I was actually born on another island further away from here. When I was young I did not know of tourists – I was very afraid of them. When I married my husband, I moved into this area. Like all women here, my work was weaving crafts and taking care of the house and my children. A Dutch couple suggested I set up a cottage, where people can spend the night on the island. I thought it was a fantastic idea. So, we started with the first, very small room, and in the first year we received two, four couples. We are already in our tenth year now. Those tourists gave us tips on how to advance our work. We are always waiting for a tourist or a friend to come and for them to leave very happy with our business, our home. We hope that they enjoy the floating beds at our small venture that we call “Hotel with floating beds”. In the beginning, some people in the community said that we were crazy, even my husband. No one believed that anyone could stay here because it is quite cold, there is no electricity, and there is no water. But we pushed this project forward, and now more tourists are coming to stay. Now, when tourists are coming or leaving in our small boats, the community can see that a project like this is possible. Today, the whole family is involved in this work. Now, I work mainly in the kitchen. My sisters and my cousins are also learning to manage the kitchen so that I can travel and do other things. My daughter is in charge of bookings. She decided that to be succesful in this business she needed to study. So, she studied tourism. Having her return home after her studies is my greatest satisfaction as a mother. She is already working in our project as the boss. My son is working with the transfers; he goes where the tourists are. My husband takes the tourists out in the boat for fishing. My sister shows tourists our handicrafts, and teaches them how to do it. During the evenings, my nephews play music and bring joy to the party. The kids have also become interested in continuing their studies. So, I am very happy because now the company belongs to the entire family. We are a very big family; ten brothers and sisters. Two have died, so now we are eight. We have gone through very difficult times in my family, with my parents. I think if it wasn’t for this project, maybe I would have continued living on my island far away, working with fishing. There were days when we caught fish and had something to eat, and days when we didn´t. But with this venture, I have learnt how to organize my family in terms of food, and have my children studying as well. I call this a sustainable project as it is about caring for our environment and respecting our people. It is also about valuing our identity. Now, we talk with our elders and ask them about where we came from. This helps me understand where I have come from. I am always telling our fellow brothers in other communities to invest time in training, in learning how to manage this type of business. With each client, you will gain something every time and keep expanding, like we did. Now we already have ten rooms with 20 beds, and we have also bought this platform to expand our kitchen and dining room. We bought solar panels. So I am always telling my brothers to invest their time in training, invest their money to buy and implement their business. I want to create a small travel agency so that tourists can come directly from their country to our houses in different parts of our country. It can be in different places, wherever our communities can receive tourists. This is our dream.