Recently, BiblioWorks worked with another Bolivian nonprofit and a Polish organization, Condortrekkers and Early Stage, to create a fundraiser documentary about the lives of Bolivian children in one of our rural library towns, Morado K’asa (also spelled Q’asa). It only made sense that a song in their primary language of Quechua would be the soundtrack. So one weekend in November, we set out to bring eight children to the city to record the song. The kids from Morado K’asa were so excited to come to Sucre that they arrived to their library a full 2.5 hours before we got there to pick them up. Their librarian, Marisol, was very surprised to find them already outside the library at fifteen minutes to 7:00. Jumping as though the ground were hot lava, they immediately surrounded the van as we rolled to a stop. I felt like Simba in the stampede scene of The Lion King as six, seven, eight…fifteen children smashed themselves into the van. The five adults managed to find somewhere to sit and we embarked on our 3-hour trip back to Sucre.
At the sight of the movie theater and food court above Sucre’s grocery store, the kids soon forgot any upset stomachs, their eyes wide as Charlie’s when he enters Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
For about half of the children, this was the first time they had ever traveled as far as Sucre. Others had accompanied parents coming to the city to conduct business, but they had never experienced this side of Sucre. Morado K’asa is so small that if you aren’t paying attention while walking you’ll have passed though without ever realizing it. With a population of less than 200 families, Morado K’asa is world away from the constant cacophony of car horns, alarms, motorcycles, and street vendors of Sucre. Witnessing the Morado children’s exploration of Sucre was truly humbling, and in the instances of crossing the street, terrifying at the same time. After bringing this group to Sucre I am even more grateful for every chance to travel and experience the world; and I’m ecstatic we were able to give all these children this opportunity.
While waiting for lunch we happened on a fun little puppet show, but the real excitement was our pollo and papas fritas.In Morado a typical meal is boiled potatoes and white rice. Our volunteer working in Morado tells me that any sort of animal protein is very rare. It’s no wonder then that the kids savored every single bite during the long hour we ate lunch. Some kids even insisted on putting some of their chicken in their backpacks, surely to share with younger siblings at home.
At around 1:00pm we were off to the recording studio. The kids were almost equally entertained with the recording technician’s swivel chair as with all the fancy equipment.Taking turns to enter the studio, they teamed up to record each stanza of the song. Never having practiced before with music, it took quite awhile to get the timing right. However, by the end of the third hour they had mastered the song, and the recording was deemed a success. The sound of Quechua is difficult to describe to native English speakers- it sounds like no other language we might normally be familiar with. Ultimately, the children’s high voices, along with Quechua’s staccato quality, combined to create a captivating song
As a surprise-extra-fun conclusion of our day we took the kids to Parque Bolivar. Watching them experience the park for the first time in their lives was by far my favorite part of the whole day. When we told the kids we did indeed have time to visit the park they literally exploded with excitement: they chanted “al parque bolivar al parque bolivar” and bounced around as though our van were in fact a pin ball machine for the full 10 minutes it took us to get there. Anyone would have told us they didn’t need sugar, but of course we would have disregarded their advice … so our first stop was to buy popsicles. I think the pictures here tells all:
The ice cream may have been culpable for the incredible outpouring of energy I saw in the next 20 minutes. Although they had been bouncing around all day, we couldn’t pass up the chance to let them play in one of the park’s blow-up bouncy-houses. Again, the photo really says all that needs to be said. I honestly hope for the sake of our librarian that they eventually went to sleep during their trip home, but they showed no signs of tiring while waiting for the bus…
I won’t soon forget the day we spent with the kids of Morado K’asa. It truly gives me goose bumps to recall the expression of delight, surprise and amazement that passed across the children’s faces on the day. I can’t wait see more.