Profile: Bertha García

Upon meeting Bertha that first day in Pucallpa in the lounge of the upscale, slightly classy, Hostal Arequipa, I worried for our three week stay at her house. A solid woman, she stood before us in traditional dress, her square face without the trace of a smile.

And she didn´t speak a word to either of us until the next day, half-way through our six hour boat ride.

However, upon arriving here at Santa Rosa de Dinamarca to her home, Bertha´s true personality was revealed.

True, she is a woman of few words, at least in castellano, but her good-natured, kind ways and easy sense of humor transcend our communication barrier.

When I felt sick, she made me special tea to help my stomach and spent the day sitting by me with her impressive embroidering. Finally at the end telling me she was worried for me.

Or when the large oil drum that for some reason is yard furniture bongs as it is wont to do (almost every hour on the hour interestingly enough), causing Chris to almost jump completely out of his hammock, Bertha is there with her good-natured laugh making the situation even funnier (in a nice way).

She cooks breakfast and lunch for us every day, along with the¨”real” meals that she cooks her family (fish and meat that our stomach don´t like).

She cuts and carries firewood from ten minutes away, bringing the large bundle on a sack on her back, supported by her forehead.

She washes our clothes almost every other day and gets water for our bath from the well, carrying a full five gallon bucket on her head.

She climbs 20 feet into trees picking oranges and throwing them into a blanket below, offering us multiple oranges that she peels with ease ( a task that takes Chris and I at least 5 minutes)

She does all this and more, everytime denying my offers to help, and always she seems happy. Happy to be working and happy to be taking care of us. I am in awe of her strength and so thankful that her stern exterior was only a façade given to unknown visitors.

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