viernes, julio 03, 2009

In the Sala de Investigadores

I don't know what community he came from.(*) I will have to ask today, when I return to the National Archive. I didn't want to stare but he was fairly young, pouring over a document in his traditional clothing, which was immaculate. His was showing the utmost respect to the Archive and to his people's past. He wore sandals, cotton pants which reached his calves, an embroidered shirt and a magnificent poncho - stripes of red, yellow and blue in varying widths and quite asymmetrical - unlike those I had previously seen. He wore a chulo - a knitted cap with ear flaps common in Bolivia and on the heads of hip college students in the States - of cream and dark brown wool. Over the chulo he wore a high crowned natural felt hat - quite common among the indigenous people of this region - but his was brand new.

My photograph of the indigenous scholar in the Sala de Investigadores, sitting at a Danish Modern desk, surrounded by bookshelves and other researchers would have been a prizewinner. Unfortunately, cameras are prohibited in the Archive.

(*) I subsequently learned from a librarian that he was from Tapacarí, in the Cochabamba Province and he was carrying bolas (a weapon made famous by the gauchos in Argentina), indicating that he was a chief. Tapacarí is the mountainous area between the Cochabamba valley and the Altiplano to the West. It is sparsely populated and consists of small interconnected mountain valleys. The main route from Cochabamba to Oruro and La Paz passes through this region.

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