A Day in Ipitacito del Monte – BOLIVIA

Ten days I live in Ipitacito del Monte, a community in the Bolivian Chaco; my journey is within the light-dark rhythm: intense light, absolute darkness. 5.30 am: from a tank I take a little water for a coffee; Then I go on top of the scaffolding.

My eleventh working day is going to start; Juan, ten years old, rides a mule bareback, is taking the animals to drink to what is cut off from the community (about three kilometers from the center of the community). A row of women carrying pots with old drawings tells me that it is seven o’clock in the morning: they too, on foot, are going to collect water. On his way, with the pots empty, it took him a while to look at the facade of his church which is animated by signs and colors; They talk to each other, laugh, greet.

Maria is young: with her toothy smile she asks me if the small crosses on the left side of the mural are those of the dead themselves, or perhaps they are small planes? 8.30 am: the boys arrive, Ovidio Pedro Juan Carlos José Jorge, between fourteen and seventeen years of age; It is ten days that we work together for this mural. With the development of the drawing and the painting they are satisfying.

10 am: the heat is already very strong, we are working in the company of a multitude of wasps that, due to the drought these days, come to take water from our hands, wet with red water. Juan Carlos is down with Pedro to take the measurements from the sketch and shouts to tell us that we are up on the scaffold. This abstract painting that is growing on the wall does not seem to create any disorder: they fantasize, they invent interpretations, as if an ancient memory carried them calmly within these types of signs.

Noon: the mayor of the community, on horseback, returns from the field; Today greets with “Holà amigo”, which finally arrives after a contemptuous and ironic “Holà gringo” and a respectable “good day, sir.” I get off the scaffolding and go to Ovid’s family home, where I have lunch and dinner with a plate of rice. I am sitting alone at this table as a guest, meanwhile the whole family is eating outside under a gray roof.

Above the poor walls (this house is one of the few that has some plaster) are two school diplomas; the floor is dirt.

1 pm: we are working again, despite the heat that is now unbearable; we have to respect the program. But the work goes with joy: the load of joy that remains in these people is incredible, as incredible is how much it communicates among all.

5 pm: we all get off the scaffolding because at this time there is telephone contact with the Tatarenda community (it is not long that a somewhat rudimentary, but effective, telephone system works with an iron wire line. This system joins all the communities with the hospital, which is located in the center of the area.): thus, between an urgent communication and the other, I hear that they are talking about this painting.

6.30 pm: it is almost dark; we prepare the bucket the color for tomorrow’s work.

8 pm: While I am writing this diary by candlelight, Ovid arrives to visit me. He looks at the table a watercolor with the portrait of him and his mouth opens to a big smile; I tell the one who can get it out. For half an hour we talked and above all he asked me, about me, the place where I live, the people I live with, the trees, the animals and the time it takes to get from there to here.

Ipitacito del Monte, October 23, 1988

Mimmo Roselli