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Madre Cocani, Cocani Mother (In Spanish and English)

Esta cocani trabaja duro. Todos los días está en el camino. Dos veces por semana se traslada desde los Yungas paceños, hasta la frontera en Yacuiba en el extremo sur. Sale de mañanita el martes, llega a La Paz y toma la flota de las 5 pm, junto con sus ocho taques (cargas) de coca. El camino, largo y tedioso, pasa por helados senderos y llega a Tarija al medio día del miércoles, para subir inmediatamente al próximo bus, que llegará a Yacuiba a las 8 de la noche, directamente al mercado de la coca, donde la esperan ansiosos sus compradores.

Vende sus ocho taques ganando Bs. 500 por taque. Es decir, cada viaje le significa una ganancia de Bs. 4000. Sufrido dinero. El jueves en la mañana vuelve a salir de la terminal en Yacuiba, llevándose el dinero. Llega a las 4 a Tarija para tomar el bus a La Paz, y llegar el viernes al medio día. Para la noche del viernes, ya ha vuelto a Los Yungas. Vuelve a salir el sábado hacia Yacuiba, llegando el domingo en la noche para vender otra vez su coquita, su hoja sagrada, ganando otros Bs. 4.000. El lunes en la noche vuelve a estar un ratito en casa, y vuelve a la ruta. Tiene plata. Gana como Bs. 32.000 al mes. Más que el presidente, casi el doble.

Su vida, su día a día, está en peligro constante. Sus riñones están molidos, su marido está trabajando en Los Yungas en el cato de coca de su hermano, de sol a sol para que ella pueda vender la coca en Yacuiba. Ella tiene plata para comprar los ocho taques, y no tiene que contratar burros. Eso es bueno para ella. Un burro, es aquel que no tiene plata para comprar el taque, pero que tiene el permiso para transportar la coca desde Los Yungas hasta la frontera. El burro “alquila” su permiso y gana la mitad, es decir, nuestra cocani ganaría solo Bs. 2000 si utilizara un burro.

Corre el año 2008, la cocani de la que les cuento se llama Margarita (nombre ficticio), tiene tres hijos y el mayor tiene 15 años. Su hija de 14 y su pequeño de 9, se turnan para acompañarla. Está entrenando a la niña para que viaje solita cuando tenga 15. El hijo mayor se queda porque tiene que estudiar, lo mismo que el menorcito. Son hombres. La niña, no es tan importante que estudie. Esta era su realidad hace diez años, y hace tres también.

Margarita y su marido han hecho varias casas en estos últimos diez años. Una en Los Yungas, otra en Yacuiba, otra en El Alto, y tienen dos minibuses que hacen la ruta entre Los Yungas y La Paz. Además, tienen ahorritos, “para que las wawas vayan a la universidad”, en esto las wawas son los hijos varones, porque Soledad, la niña, está destinada a seguir viajando.

Sus pesados días, sus interminables noches en el camino, valen la pena para ella. No hay ningún trabajo que la familia pudiera hacer que le brindara semejante rédito. Tal vez ser contrabandista, pero para eso hay que nacer, ser parte de otra comunidad.

Así las cosas, estaba Margarita estaba en viaje el año 2009 cuando sucedió el accidente. Margarita murió un día frío de invierno. A su marido le avisaron y llorando la recogió. Soledad estaba con ella y le ayudaron los demás cocanis que sobrevivieron. Hoy, 2011, Margarita estaría muy orgullosa de ella porque viaja solita a Yacuiba. Tiene su propio puesto de venta de coca. Su padre, Manuel, es quien ahora viaja para llevarle la coquita.

Cuando me encontré con él en la flota, Manuel estaba preocupado porque su hijo mayor, ahora de 18 años, se había escapado con su novia llevándose Bs. 2200. “Mi hijo se ha perdido”, me contaba preocupado. “Los he criado como plantitas a mis hijos, y ahora se ha perdido el mayor. Es que su madre ya no está. Cómo le voy a confiar ahora, si se ha llevado plata sin decirme nada. Más bien le ha avisado a su tía en Los Yungas. Sólo ella sabía que le iba a ir a visitar. Ahora, cuando vuelva a Los Yungas, voy a ir donde su tía para ver si ha llegado”.

La vida continúa. El día a día es un constante viaje. Constante también es el peligro de vida, así como el futuro para sus hijos es de constante viaje también. Eso si es que no estudian, que no se sabe todavía si lo harán. Cómo le irá ahora a su hijo mayor, que está a punto de iniciar una familia al estilo aymara, pues parece que se ha robado a su novia. Margarita es un recuerdo, y un ejemplo para Soledad, que a los 16, es toda una mujer cocani.

Cocani* Mother

This cocani works hard. Every day she is on the road. Twice a week she travels from the Yungas in La Paz (the political capital of Bolivia), to the city of Yacuiba, in the southern border of Bolivia with Argentina. She leaves early in the morning of Tuesday, reaches La Paz and takes the bus at 5 p.m., together with her 8 “taques” (a big bulk bag of coca leaves). The road, long and boring, passes through icy paths and reaches Tarija on Wednesday at noon, to get immediately to the next bus that will reach Yacuiba at 8 p.m., directly to the coca leave market, where her clients, coca leave buyers, are anxiously expecting her.

She sells her 8 “taques” making a profit of Bs. 500 per bag. This is to say that every trip means a profit of Bs. 4000. Painful money. Thursday morning she leaves again from the bus station in Yacuiba, taking the money with her. She gets to Tarija at 4 p.m. to take the bus back to La Paz, and reaches the city on Friday at noon. For Friday night, she is back in Yungas. She leaves again on Saturday to Yacuiba, getting ther on Sunday night to sell her precious, sacred coca leaves again, making another Bs. 4000. Monday night she is home again for a little while, and goes back to the road. She has money. She makes around Bs. 32.000 (around US$ 6,500) per month. More than the president Evo Morales, almost doubling his wage.

Her life, her day to day, is in constant danger. Her kidneys are grinned, her husband is working in Los Yungas in her brother’s “cato” (a big piece of land dedicated exclusively to the plantation of coca leaves), where he works day in day out so that she can sell the coca leaves in Yacuiba. She has the money to buy the 8 coca bags, so she does not need to hire “donkeys”. This is good for her. A “donkey”, is a person who has no money to buy the coca bag, but has the permission to transport the coca from Los Yungas to the southern border. The donkey “rents” his permission and makes half of the profit, meaning that our cocani would only make Bs. 2000 if she used a donkey.

It is 2008, the cocani I am telling you about is named Margarita (fictional name), has three kids, the oldest being 15 years old. Her 14 year old daughter, and her 9 year old boy take turns to ride with her in the bus. She is training the girl to travel by herself when she turns 15. Her oldest son stays home because he has to study, as the youngest one does also. They are men. The girl, well, it is not so important for her to study. This was Margarita´s reality ten years ago, as well as three years ago.

Margarita and her husband have built many homes during this last ten years. One in Los Yungas, another in Yacuiba, another one in El Alto city, and own two small public service wagon cars that go from La Paz to Los Yungas every day, they have their savings “for the kids to go to college”, and here she refers to the boys, because Soledad, the girl, is destined to keep travelling.

Her heavy days, her everlasting nights on the road, are worth it for her. No other job her family could do would give her such profit. Maybe being a smuggler, but you need to be born for that, be a part of another community.

Things being this way, Margarita was travelling in the year of 2009 when the accident happened on the road. Margarita died in a cold winter day. Her husband was called and picked her up crying. Soledad was with her and was helped by the other cocani survivors in the bus.

Today, 2011, Margarita would be very proud of Soledad because she now travels by herself to Yacuiba. She has her own coca leave store there. Her father, Manuel, is who now travels to Yacuiba to take the precious coca for her to sell.

When I met him on the bus, Manuel was worried because his oldest son, now 18 years old, had ran away with his girlfriend taking Bs. 2200 with him. “My son is lost”, he told me worried. “I have raised my kids like little plants, and now the oldest got lost. It because his mother is not with us anymore. How can I trust him now, if he has taken the money without telling me anything. For better, he has warned his aunt in Los Yungas. Only she knew that he was going there to visit. Now, when I go back to Yungas, I will go to his aunt´s home to see if he has arrived there”.

Life goes on. The day to day is a constant travelling. Constant is also the danger of his life, as well as the future of his children is of constant travelling. This is if they do not study, which is unknown to this day. How will things be for his oldest son, is also unknown, as he is now just ready to begin a family in the aymara style, as it seems that he has “robbed” his girlfriend. Margarita is only a memory, and an example for Soledad, who at 16, is a complete cocani woman.

*Cocani is the generic name given in Bolivia to people who work in the cycle of producing and selling coca leaves, the basic material for the production of cocaine.

Comments

AJWA's picture

Hy Madre Cocani,i wish i meet

Hy Madre Cocani,i wish i meet u n Breese.

jap21's picture

Hi

Thanks for reading!

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

NI NI AYE's picture

Women are responsible

Hi sister

Your story told me the perseverance of Madre and taking responsibility for her family and I was deeply sad for her death. However it was very proud of her that she was a role model of her daughter who could be able to take the responsibility as a daughter and a sister among the family. They both inspired me a lot.Thank you for your sharing , sister.

Love

NI NI

Congratulations on Very Happy Teachers Day through ten years journey!

jap21's picture

Hi Ni Ni

Thanks for the comment sister. Her life was really too hard for her. God was good to her. I think she suffered too much, and so will her daughter. Sad destiny.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

afrikangoddess's picture

This was Inspiring!

Thanks for sharing.

LilyBrook's picture

Thank you for this beautiful

Thank you for this beautiful story, Jackie! I can feel your voice so strongly in this piece... in English and Spanish! it's wonderful! Gracias, amiga mia.

jap21's picture

Hi Lily

Thanks for reading me! It is always nice to hear from you, beautiful lady!

I am glad you liked it.

Check your email, and answer my last email honey! I am still waiting hahahaha

Love you lots,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Domina Msonge's picture

This real a lovely mother

Dear Jack,

I was very sad with the death but I inspired the mother she loved her family very deep.

Domina

Domina

Monica Clarke's picture

Journal of Strength

Hello Jacqui

Thank you for Cocani Mother's story.

I am thinking how I can start a Journal of Strength. By that I mean, start to compile a record of what women do to get through – ie what inner strength do they access when things are so dark that it seems not worth going ahead?

Then when I read Cocani Mother's story, I thought: I will pick the Pulse Wire brain!

When I was in detention (prison) under Apartheid in South Africa, and did not know whether my children were being fed or whether they were being looked after; when I was being beaten by my cruel first partner and I stood against the wall covering my face with my hands; when I was caring for my darling late husband for 24 hours a day after his stroke and I was so tired I could not sleep ----- when these things were happening, what did I do?

I would like to ask women to tell what they do – where they get their strength from. What goes on inside our heads when we feel so low that we are afraid we cannot take the next step? Yet we do take the next step, and we leave a trail for other people to follow, whether it is through our organising in the community, our campaigning, our studies, our poetry, our art, our profession, caring for our families, watching out for our neighbour…... We get the courage to carry on. I would like to hear women say, for themselves, what it is that they DID in those dark moments.

And when I have collected enough of these Strengths, I would like to put them into a journal and make them available through Pulse Wire so that our Strengths will be each other's Strengths too.

Such a pity we cannot speak with Mother Cocani. But then, there are hundreds of other Mother Cocani's whose strengths we can record: What is in their heads when they think life is not worth continuing with and how do they continue through the next moment – the next day?

For me it was a repetition, my personal mantra I call it. This I remember now, through those dark times at trying to keep our home together, trying to start community projects against much opposition, while being questioned in prison about things I knew nothing about….I remember saying in my head, to whatever was in my way or hurting me (even when I was physically on my knees):

"YOU CAN BEAT ME BUT YOU CANNOT BEAT ME DOWN."

And I still say this today, to Arthritis when it eats into my bones!

What deep inside themselves have other sisters accessed to help them carry on?

Do you have any ideas for me, please Jacqui?

If anyone would like to join me in compiling this journal, please write to me: monicaclarke@edev.org.uk, subject JOURNAL OF STRENGTH

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

jap21's picture

Hi Monica

I just got the email with this article that you wrote in the Pulsewire Lounge group,and was getting ready to answer to it while opening my article I found this wonderful surprise: you had posted the article on my article also! Thank you girl, you made my day! :))

I could not think of a better question to ask to women around the world right now, than the one you have just asked: WHAT did you do in your darkest times that allowed you to go into the light again? Great question!

While you go on to build the group (to which I beg you to include me), I will answer the question myself, the best I can.

First, just today I heard a shrink say that problems are what keeps our brains from getting smaller, and give us a purpose to make them grow. I agree. When I was going through the worst nightmares of my life, my brain told me I should think of a way to solve my problems. So I started to pray. Through my prayers I received the company of a teacher, who taught me how to breath and relax, and imagine that good things were happening to me. From there on, good things really started to happen and until today, the same chain has proven to be the best for me.

This last August 22nd, my family and I remembered one year of my oldest son´s passing. It has been very, very sad. But I prayed a lot. And then again, one other teacher was sent to my life, my dear mentor Yvonne. She taught me again how I should breath and relax, and make decisions. So I decided I will celebrate my son´s life, instead of remembering how he passed away. I made the decision that I will go on with my life and be the best mother I can to my other two kids that are with me as... yes, they are ALIVE!

So, my formula, that I share with the women in the whole world is: PRAY to God. Pray sincerely to God, or to the Universe if you wish, but pray from the bottom of your heart. The right teacher will come to your life, and accept her or his help. Don´t ever miss the opportunity to embrace the warmth of any friend that comes to your way to teach you well. Open your mind to learn how to relax and meditate and imagine the best for you and for your life.

With love to you and to all women of the world,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

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