The Indian, from the north of Ecuador to the hilly region of Chaco, seems to me a single man. He may differ in stature and features. He may differ in his dress, sometimes enormously; but his habits, his voice, his walk, his behavior is the same, with variations. Everything I have seen presents itself to me now as an immense kaleidoscope, in which colors compose and decompose on a foundation of ochre and dark brown earth. The "leitmotif" is the burdened man, the man who is his own beast of burden - and that of others. He is the silent and reserved man, whose children hardly cry; the woman nursing her infant child, a gesture repeated a thousand times. Then the Indian woman of the market, selling, cooking without pause and... such insignificant things. They talk to each other in voices sharp with exaggerated diminutives, and they have invisible husbands. Then it is the dance, the party, the costume, the drunkenness... And even facedown in a ditch, the Indian is plastically beautiful. He knows how to move, he has agile limbs, even when he drags himself along the ground. As children, they are wrapped like mummies. As adults, they move with the agility of animals. They do not need furniture, neither chair nor table, to be comfortable. Wherever they find themselves, they have everything at hand: the earth, to sit and sleep; the hand, for a spoon. There is no skirt too new not to immolate with pleasure in the mud or the dust. The sateens and embroidered garments drag between refuse and waste. It does not matter. And what to say of those feet? Of those submissive legs, magnificent or miserable. Those feet, often aristocratic, with well-formed little toes, slender and fine, sometimes open like a fan, sometimes monstrous, true petrifactions. How the Indian loses beauty when he puts on shoes! And they realize how grotesque they are, for sometimes they use them in costumes, as other would put on a mask.
- From the travel notes of Gertrudis Chale, written by her in 1945
- Translation from Spanish to English by Julianne Gilland