Women laughs holding a bowl


Suddenly, the lilting song is engulfed by thunderous blasts. Smoke from the patio fills the entire space. The family's scrofulous watchdogs howl. We are paralyzed-but everyone else is energized.

The fireworks are a signal for the women to jump up and spray each other-and us-with the contents of beer bottles as if this were a fraternity party. They throw a blizzard of white confetti. They shake hands, hug, kiss the air, and then shake hands again. Women and children share bowls of popcorn and tankards of beer, some of which they pour on the ground as an offering to Pachamama, Mother Earth.

We are witnessing a challa, one of the parties that begin and end the credit association's sixteen-week loan cycles. This is the way the women bless the money. Stacks of bills on the table are now buried in confetti. Loan papers are so wet that they must be spread to dry on a heap of corncobs in the patio.

As the loans are distributed, the women pick up their money, look at it, count it, look again, count again.


Buy In Her Hands