It could be my imagination, or perhaps just some kind of selective pregnant-lady visual filter, but it seems like there are pregnant ladies everywhere here. The supermarket is not far from our house, but any time I walk there, I can spot at least one, and usually a handful, of obviously pregnant ladies. It’s oddly comforting. I mean, I stick out no matter what, thanks to the pasty complexion and not-black hair, but once I get large enough that my rain jacket won’t hide my belly anymore, at least that won’t actually make me look even more strange. It may even cause me to blend in a little bit.
Logically, there also seem to be ladies with babies everywhere. What interests me is the way they’re carried. I hardly ever see strollers, which makes a lot of sense since so few people drive– I can’t imagine trying to haul a stroller, no matter how compact, on and off the chaotic buses. Most ladies here in the big city seem to carry their infants in their arms, covered in a blanket. I’m not sure if this is to protect them from the chill, the smog, or the stares of strange gringas in the street. Up in the mountains, where we spent a month before moving here, the preferred baby-conveyance is a brightly-woven shawl, generally tied in a knot at the mother’s collarbones, bulging at her back with the shape of an unconscious baby or toddler. On the odd occasions I saw the children awake, the shawl and the child had been shifted around so that the child could sit upright in the shawl and peek over mother’s shoulder. When the ladies sit down– whether to ride the bus or to nurse on a public bench, the shawl just gets scooted around so the child is in front. This seems like a pretty handy system, and I may try to learn it myself. Up in the mountains, the women don’t just carry children this way. I’ve seen them removing all sorts of things from their shawls: bundles of goods for sale, groceries, lunch, even baby llamas. Down in the city, you don’t see the shawls much– one wonders if this is just one of those things only the “indios” do, and therefore subject to cultural bias, or what. Maybe it’s just more comfortable if you’ve been using a shawl to haul loads since childhood, and city folks aren’t used to them.