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Falling in love with Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron


Swimming in Lake Titicaca
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Other islands: when I was in Peru I swam in Lake Titicaca. This lake, at 14,000 feet, the highest navigable lake in the world. I saw the floating islands of Titicaca. These are islands constructed of reeds and people live on these islands, these floating islands. They fish, they... they catch fowl and they... and they bargain with people on land to get other supplies. Sometimes, if... if there has been a love affair, if someone on one island falls in love with someone on another island, the islands will join. If on the other hand there has been a bitter quarrel, you can’t have two people at loggerheads on the same island, the island will divide in the middle. So, these are amoeba-like islands with an ancient culture and their own language. I’ve... I found this very, very extraordinary, though now, one shouldn’t be judgemental, but I want to say, alas, television has emptied… has entered their lives, the young people no longer want to live on a... an island of reeds in the middle of Lake Titicaca. And, I think, probably this mode of life will become extinct. I, myself, stayed with Kate and Allen on an island, a real island, in Lake Titicaca.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Peru, Lake Titicaca, Uru people, Uros, Kate Edgar, Allen Furbeck

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012