Bringing the ART into arthritis

I still have trouble believing it myself, but today was quite cold. It was drizzling when I woke up and it was pounding by the time I was well on my way. The bus ride from Tena to the little village of San Francisco, of which I am growing very fond, takes about thirty minutes. During the ride up there, I could see the streets becoming substitute rivers and I was glad that I had decided no to put on my sandals today (all though I did have them with me, in case the sun would come out. It didn’t).

I arrived early in San Francisco, so none of the artisans I would be meeting up with were around when I crossed the bridge. In fact, the whole town looked deserted, which gave me the chance to take some pictures without making anyone feel uncomfortable. This is what a gloomy day in San Francisco de Cotundo looks like:

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The rain here really does get under your skin. This actually happens quite literally, as many of the locals here have symptoms of arthritis revealing themselves at quite an early age. Cecilia, one of the artesanas, was telling me about a pain she had in her foot and I could see it was quite swollen inside her worn out flip flops. At first I thought she had been stung by some nasty jungle bug, but apparently it was “just arthritis”. After she had told me this, I noticed that her elbows and knees looked a bit out of proportion as well.

Apparently, arthritis is quite a common ailment in these parts of Ecuador. All though I believe there is a genetic factor playing a role here, the weather apparently influences those who are prone to it as well. Studies have shone that high humidity levels seem to make the disease manifest itself more aggressively, as does the cold. Which pretty much sums up today’s weather, even though what is considered “cold” here would be warm by the standards of other countries.

Anyway, Cecilia is such an amazingly sweet soul. She is actually quite new to the whole artesanía thing but she is very passionate about learning more and being involved. She is quite open, especially for kichwa standards and I really feel for her. I can tell her bones hurt when she stands up and some of the crafts she is learning are so demanding and require such precise hand work, that it must be hard for her to keep up. But she is and I applaud her for it. Well done Cecilia, bring the art into your arthritis….

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