Wawa

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Meaning: baby (Quecha word)
Just outside of Sucre, Bolivia’s ancient capital that stands proudly gleaming with beautiful white colonial architecture lies the small town of Tarabuco. Known for its Sunday market, keen shoppers take the hour long journey in a colectivo (minibus) to wander among the stalls selling everything from artisanal woven tapestries to toothpaste. We have lunch in the centre of the marketplace, eating some delicious oily pasta dish for about 30 cents each and then head back to Sucre. In the colectivo I get to sit up front with the smiley driver with gaps in his teeth that show when he laughs and a polite teenage boy. One of my favourite things about travelling is the random conversations you have with anyone and everyone. As the van winds along the road back to Sucre the teenage boy tells me about his studies in architecture, how he hopes to design big buildings one day. I tell him and the driver about Australia and they are full of questions, my favourite being “Is it possible to bring my donkey into Australia?” They ask me what I think of Sucre’s buildings, did I come to Bolivia from Australia by bus, where my family is, what language other than Spanish do they speak in my country, what’s it like to fly in an aeroplane. The driver roars with laughter whenever I make a joke and the two of them are so interested in everything I tell them about this far off land on the other side of the world. I ask them all about Bolivia- why are the houses unfinished? (To avoid paying tax on the house) What is the native language spoken here, do they speak it, where is the best place to visit in Bolivia, what food do they normally eat at home? The boy teaches me a few Quechua words, the most widely spoken Indigenous language in the region. Wawa is the word for ‘baby’, or wawita for ‘little baby’ is the cuter version. The Bolivian wawa is usually hoisted up onto its mother’s back In a colourful strong wool fabric tied around the shoulders like a little sack. Outside a cafe in town I watch a mother lift her baby up expertly from floor to back all by herself in one swift movement. The baby rests his little chubby cheeks on his mothers back, wide eyes taking in the world as she wanders about doing her daily business. In the colectivo we arrive back in the city and I farewell my new friends as we all wish each other well, sad that the little journey has come to an end.

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