Soup and Sustenance in the Mountains of Bolivia
July 13, 2012
By Ned Breslin
The air is thin at 3,650 meters (12,000 feet). My breathing gets heavier with every step, especially as I am using my limited supply of oxygen to both walk and speak with Fatima, a lovely mother of three in her mid-30s. Acclimated to the altitude, she navigates the challenges of the hills with a gold-toothed smile as she leads me to her house on the Bolivian mountainscape.
Her smile widens as we pass her newly installed tap — a tap that she says has changed her life. She points to the water meter that shows how much water her family uses and then calculates what they will pay. No more long walks to collect water anymore, she tells me. With a tap in her yard, water flows every day.
Once at her home, we sit, and she offers me a bowl of soup that she has recently prepared. It is thick with potatoes and a nice broth — filling that is made with care, generosity, and water from her new tap. Delicious.
As we talk, rest, and slurp, Fatima looks upwards at the mountains that continue to rise into the sky. In the past, snow covered these mountains, she tells me. But now, I can clearly see that the glaciers in the Andes region are threatened, and so are the water systems that Fatima and her neighbors use, since they are fed from these sources.
We drink the soup with a dash of anxiety.
What do you think?