We often hear about climate change as something distant, but in cities, we still flush clean water away—yes, down the toilet. We ignore the truth that climate change is not just a specter on the horizon; it is the ghost in our machine, the specter at our feast. It’s not merely a story for the future; it’s the narrative of our present, playing out in the forgotten corners where rivers once roared.
Ler me tell you about such a place, a river really, that now lies silent and parched under the sun. It did welcome a patch of rain a couple of weeks ago, but it was brief, and now the riverbed thirsts again. Yet, in this dry expanse, we’ve managed to carveout small havens, little pools that cradle tiny fish—a miniature testament to life’s persistence.
This river, this dry whisper of history, runs past a village that cradles my family’s past. It’s where my grandmother’s stories took root, in a nearly deserted place called Vila Vila and Tiupampa—land of prehistoric seas and dawn mammals. Now, the remaining few, mostly those too old to start anew, watch the riverbed, awaiting water that no longer comes.
Aunt Victoria, a small Andean woman, a figure as enduring as the mountains themselves, has made the impossible decision to leave. Her world, as a shepard of goats, skirmishes with foxes and encounters with condors at Campo Marte, can no longer sustain itself without water. She plans a farewell that’s more than just a goodbye to a place; it’s a resignation from a life once in tandem tightly with the land. Her dogs Negra, Jaime, and Acordion, along with her cats, Pancracio and Walter will have to be put down, or die of thirst. Her departure is echoed by another aunt, who turns away from her withering plants, a silent protest against the sadness of their decline.
The irony is not lost on us—the water that once flowed freely through our land is now a commodity, traded on Wall Street, a world away from the dusty riverbank where our memories lie. This land, is a stark reminder of the fragility of our existence and the profound impact our actions have on the world around us. Our ancestors may have lived in harmony with these lands, but now, we stand at a crossroads where our reverence for life and our relentless pursuit of progress collide.
The narrative of Vila Vila and Tiupampa, its stoic beauty and the silent struggle of its inhabitants, weaves a tapestry of resilience in the face of insurmountable change. It’s a microcosm of a global battle where the elemental right to water is usurped by the invisible hands of human greed.
And so, as Aunt Victoria prepares to leave, her story tugs at the broader narrative of our time: Can we afford to view water as mere currency when it is the essence of life itself? In sharing these stories, we stoke the embers of hope, igniting a collective consciousness to preserve what’s left, to fight for what’s right.
For in the end, the true measure of our legacy will be the world we leave behind.