Hiking to the Countryside

In the morning, I met with the assistant to the school district’s authority on education. I explained the history of our child language documentation project and that I would like to revisit the schools in the area to give community members and teachers the native language teaching materials we developed with Peruvian partners last year. The school authorities were friendly and signed a paper for me granting permission.
I got to hike over the mountains to the countryside again. Haven’t done this in eleven years. We were supposed to leave at 2 pm but Modesto was delayed and couldn’t leave his workshop. They kept asking if I wanted to hire a car, but I knew that would be expensive and would start us off with a precedent of perceived extravagance that would be hard to shake. Also, I wanted to see the breathtaking views again. We set out at 5 pm, carrying a couple of bags, a large coca cola for my stomach plus the charango and some pipes he is planning to use for irrigation. It was challenging to keep up with Modesto on these twisting desert roads up over a mountain pass where I could really feel my heartbeat and the wind was picking up. The road is unpaved and really hard for vehicles to pass on, although one or two do drive over it every couple of days. One of Modesto’s many jobs is to transport the male nurse who now works at the clinic in his community; he brings him back and forth to Tarabuco on the hospital’s motorcycle.
We chatted in my stilted Quechua and his more fluent Spanish all the way to the community; two of the hours in total darkness, but the road felt familiar.
I asked Modesto about the traditional medicine workshop. One of his civic responsibilities is currently to be president of a municipal association in Tarabuco; which involves hosting a lot of workshops. He says there is a new law which requires the integration of traditional medicine with Western practices. I asked if elders from the community were teaching traditional medicine, but he said no, it was specialists from Sucre. He said that it was a very positive trend however, and described an ailment of his eyes that the local doctor had been unable to treat with injections but was able to treat with herbs and minerals, to his great relief.
A few days later I met briefly with the young woman who is the new doctor in town. The clinic was built seven years ago and only got a solar panel for electricity two years ago. The doctor says they are unable to do anything requiring major electricity, referring most difficult cases to the hospital in Tarabuco. She said that it is very important for rural doctors to speak Quechua, and commented that Cuban doctors visiting in Tarabuco have been offering support to patients who cannot understand the instructions they are given for their medications.
Parked outside the clinic is a mobile dentist vehicle and I noticed that many people aged fifty and over were getting their teeth removed in this vehicle.

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