Bolivian parenting styles to learn from (part two of two)

Morado K’asa & Cororo, Bolivia — December 2014

Morada K’asa and Cororo hold their procession for Santa Barbara and their school commencement ceremonies one week apart, making for an amazing experience. Continued from part one.


After the Santa Barbara procession, a friend and I settled in the town square to watch the bands and dancers. We noticed that one corner seemed to act as the defacto porta potty; men often wandered over to the corner to relieve themselves. The corner was not remotely isolated and was just a few feet away from where the dancers marched. I find that disgusting, but I if I start to judge other cultures then I’m liable to explain our worship of reality TV stars to foreigners. I’ll leave out the value judgments and just say the section of the town square immediate surrounding the porta potty corner smelled like urine.

I was discussing this with my friend when, as if on cue, I saw a child ahead of us pull down his pants and squat, barrel pointed straight at us. I gave my friend a nod and flashed my eyebrows to point her towards what was unfolding. While she had a graphic view, I managed to look away just in time. The squatting child had explosive bowel issues; the sidewalk of the town square was now covered in his mess. I couldn’t watch but my friend’s reaction told me all I needed to know. Despite being in the middle of the square, the rest of the village decided to ignore him and instead focus on the festivities.

After a few minutes the squatting child stood up again. When I looked over to see if he was alright, a dog followed his nose to the child. The dog followed his trail and licked up the mess in euphoria. At this point my friend is gawking and I’m giving a Hurculean effort to keep my mouth shut, as I know I’ll vomit if I don’t. Just like a bad car crash, we couldn’t look away.

Apparently still sick, the kid squatted down for another round, with the dog standing directly behind him. The kid waddled forward a little and the dog kept following him, enthusiastically eating everything the kid released. The child suffered one more round of this before it came to a merciful end. He had waddled around the town square with explosive diarrhea and a hungry dog for fifteen minutes.

When the kid finished, a woman finally came to his aid. She picked up her crying child and stripped his soiled clothes off. After talking to him for a minute, she left. With his clothes. And without him. She didn’t return. While we were convinced she came to rescue her sick, naked, and crying child, she had just taken his clothes to wash and left him in town square, naked and soiled for the gathered village to see. And thus continued what will undoubtedly the worst day of his life. I felt the need to help, but touching someone else’s naked child usually doesn’t end well for anyone involved.

So I left him. And the village left him. And his parents left him. Crying, soiled, his penis swinging in the breeze for the village to see.

Thanks mom and dad.

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