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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Aymara Mystery, Bolivia - Page 2

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Although the oldest of the four Mamani sisters is only 17 years old, the 8-year-old Luzmila is the only one who still lives at home. The other sisters, who are 11, 14 and 17, go to school a boat ride away from the island and only come home for the weekends. Like any father with teenage daughters, Papa Edwin is not excited about the prospect of his daughters meeting boys while away from home. He knows this is a realistic threat; Papa Edwin and Mama Juana met each other while at school. The older daughters are beginning to show worrying signs of rebellion; one refuses to wear the traditional Cholita outfit, and one gets a phone call on her mobile phone while we are having dinner as a family. In a community so close to its history and traditions, things like common teenage mutiny seem very out of place. Globalisation is slowly creeping into the community, in the form of the oldest sister’s Samsung phone or the youngest sister’s Minnie Mouse jumper. 


As I lie on the island’s sports field in my four Cholita skirts that Mama Juana let me borrow, with my hair braided in the traditional way by my youngest sister I look at the stars, which due to the 3,800m altitude are in plenty. Although my Finnishness might not be an obvious match with the culture I’m attempting to infiltrate, this contrast is just one of many on the island. The different layers of Aymara culture can be seen both in the history and geography of the island as well as in the Mamani family. The Mamani family is like a more concise version of the island. The whole island is a contrast; from its weather to its history. This pattern is recreated in the family; like the Catholicism the family was willing to accept as a part of its existing religion, so will the new traditions created by the new generation, including more Western aspects like Disney and the mobile revolution, become a part of the complicated web of the family’s own culture.


©Katriina Virtanen

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Last modified on Thursday, 31 October 2013

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