One evening in August 2011, an unusually cold
August in Bolivia, I sat in the kitchen of my friend
Maruja, as I have done so often over the past twenty years.
Her mother-in-law, Francisca, with whom I have also had
many long conversations, sat in the corner, and I opposite.
Maruja cooked over a wood fire while engaging Francisca
in rapid conversation, touching on scandal, gossip, and the
hardness of life. We all punctuated Francisca’s discourse
with the lament, tataaay! But that was merely the appro-
priate response to the rise and fall of her speech; no one
was really aggrieved. On this occasion her new daughter-
in-law was there with Maruja’s grandson. Everyone spoke
in Aymara, an indigenous language of the Andes, and
everyone—the anthropologist notwithstanding—was
dressed in traditional indian fashion: large pollera skirts and
long black braids. That is until Maruja’s daughter, Yaquita,
walked in wearing trousers, sporting a modern hairstyle.
At one point Maruja’s cell phone rang, and we took turns
speaking to her husband, Eustaquio, who was away working
in the lower valleys for several weeks. The heat of the fire
and the presence of a happy baby warmed the atmosphere
Previous Page Next Page