My first impressions

March 2015.

I had a lot of anxiety and expectations of knowing what I would find when you arrived at La Guajira, a trip that yearned, through beautiful landscapes to meet an ancestral culture, the indigenous community Wayuu.

Upon my arrival, the first meeting was with Fredy Epiayu, leader of the project in Sacred Thread, and with whom he had previously had telephone contact. I was anxious and at the same time concerned with not finding all the right words, or not being polite enough not to collide with the culture of which there are many myths. But my encounter was very nice, when I met a young, attentive, simple and cheerful person, interested in knowing the future of the Foundation, but very willing to answer each of my questions about their culture.

The next day we started our trip to the hamlet taking the road from Maiapo, a road that lacks signaling and in which only desert, arid land, dry vegetation and many varieties of cactus are seen. After about 20 minutes of our trip, Fredy points to the driver an entrance to the right that has a wooden sign, very small and written by hand. We continue our path, and although it was impossible to continue, we got off and walked a few minutes until finally, I managed to see the first house in the community.

The houses were mud, made by the community. There is a weed shelter where several women are weaving and next to them, a man with a chichorro (traditional way of the Wayuu culture); Fredy introduces me and tells me that I must first explain to Rafael, which is the delegated authority, what we are going to do and ask for permission to be there. Everyone is very serious but very attentive to my arrival. After obtaining the permission I address all of them and start our presentation.

I began to identify the face and name of each of the women, of different ages but generally very thin, of dry skin and very burned by the intense sun that shines in this area. The entire conversation is moderate by Fredy because most do not speak Spanish, only Wayuunaiki, the traditional language. Many children leave school and, seeing my presence there, they are interested and feel curious.

After a while they are no longer so serious, laughs and people are heard in the environment. A few women get up to prepare a snack, and see children sucking the pineapple peels. Everyone eats and there are many laughs, but only the next day I learned that the reason they couldn't stop laughing was that some had never eaten pineapple and acid bit their tongue.

Our first meeting with entrepreneurs begins to come to an end, and some women have to leave because they have to walk hours to get home under a scorching sun. I was chatting with women who live closer, and it was there that I started to know their personal stories, their age, number of children and the characteristics of the population.

I was surprised to meet a very young population, contrary to what their faces appear, with many children although many others, unfortunately, had died.

Its main economic activity is livestock and crafts. However, they currently do not have much cattle since the earth is very arid and access to water is limited. On the other hand, the old craft techniques have changed due to the need to sell at low prices and at least have minimal income at home.

In each of the encounters and talks, I discovered their joy, the ability to overcome difficulties and share with other cultures. One of the tasks was to portray each of the women, families and children, to share this beautiful experience. When it touched Ligia's turn, he tells me that he is not sure of his age and says: "around 28 years", but without knowing how to read or write. "I am very distressed for not even signing." We started seeing the photos but the constant cry of his youngest daughter Reneris worries me and I ask her the cause of her tears. She, in her little Spanish, replies that she has nothing to feed her children. When I come to see Reneris, he was biting his hand with the intention of eating it. At that time my soul collapses and from the depths of my being, I try to gather strength to try not to cry in front of a mother who lives this every day. It is a really heartbreaking situation, hunger and thirst for day to day, especially Wayuu children.

Making a reading after my trip on malnutrition, I find photos of malnutrition in children, which are recognized by inflated bells, glassy eyes and hair that seems straw. A chill runs through my body because many of the children I have known match these photos without mentioning the problems in their skin, their narrowed eyes and pests. However, they are cheerful and affectionate children; They love coloring and are distracted with any tool, box or jar, and are always attentive to novelties.

After this experience with which he had dreamed of beautiful landscapes and the natural paradise of La Guajira, I return with a life experience where the minimum to live with dignity does not exist, where the basics as access to water can take hours to arrive, Hunger, fatigue and pain. However, his joy of living, his happiness, his desire to share and his artistic talent is the greatest memory that I bring home.

Therefore, working together every day and joining forces with the Sacred Thread Foundation we can give hope to an ancient culture that struggles to exist.