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Walking Straight Up a Hill

Indigenous Couple in Alausi

Elderly Indigenous Couple in Alausi

I’m not going to call them Indians because they feel insulted by the term: They are the indigenous peoples of the Andean highlands. I almost never saw them unless they were carrying babies or various other loads on their backs, sometimes obviously heavy.

The day I left Alausi, I waited at La Estación on the Pan-American Highway for two and a half hours for a bus to Cuenca. (See yesterday’s post.) At one point, a native woman who looked to be in her fifties or sixties greeted me, crossed the Pan-American Highway, and proceeded to walk straight up the hill on the other side. She was wearing cheap slipper-like shoes. There did not look to be much of a trail, and I saw her for upwards of thirty minutes while she ascended and began to harvest some tall grasses, which she put in her pack.

The Hill Across the Highway

The Hill Across the Highway

I waited for her to come back down, but by then, my bus to Cuenca had arrived. I think it was Thomas Hobbes who said that man’s life was “nasty, brutish, and short”—and this was a woman, and not a young one at that!

The native peoples of the Andes fill me with awe.