Twenty-four Hours in Tarabuco

I spent the next twenty-four hours hanging around with Modesto´s kids in Tarabuco. His wife and sister left almost immediately for the countryside after doing their marketing, and Modesto had work to do. The kids also disappeared off and on, so I went to spend time in the central plaza. At some point I recognized Lorenzo´s wife who was selling hamburgers and fries at a stand with her teenaged daughter, I had had lunch with her briefly in 2009 while trying to find a ride to get to the countryside.
She was very kind to offer me a free meal and a seat behind her hamburger stand, and I felt more like a guest than an alien for about an hour and a half.
I bought a charango (ten stringed Andean mandolin) thinking it would help pass the time socially, and it was a great hit with Modesto´s kids. We spent a lot of the evening taking turns passing it around and sharing strumming techniques. In between, his boys dove and jumped and chased each other around the large windowless room they all shared in town. They reminded me of kids everywhere – wiggling and chasing and making farting sounds when they got bored.
I had to resist the urge to protect them and keep them clean and safe (in my particular version of clean and safe.) They ran out to play in the rainy, muddy street with bicycle tires at around 8 pm. In my own childhood, kids ran around with great freedom; perhaps not to this degree, but a lot more freedom and lack of supervision than North American middle class kids enjoy today. I went to bed exhausted around 10 pm only to wake up and hear a young male voice around midnight; this young man hung out with the kids, chatting and whispering with the 15 year old girl until at least three am. Next day I asked who he was; the 15 year old said he is a cousin whose parents are away and have left him in town alone.

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