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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Amateur Midwifery


While enjoying the luxury of a hot shower at my home in Collpapampa, Kevin (basically my homestay brother) hollers at me through the curtain that serves as a door to the bathroom, “Yo! Come help me birth this cow!” I thought to myself, “Here we go”.

My parents (Paula and Jose) own a bit of shared land with Paula´s parents Elsa and Gregorio (Kevin´s homestay parents). On this land live 10 (or more) cats and dogs, 6 cows, a pig and countless ducks. They hardly let us work but they love showing us things we´ve probably never experienced. Samantha the cow was about to pop out a new one and they wanted us both to be a part of it.

I dried myself off quick as a mahff with my towel shirt, and tossed my clothes on. Jogging over to the cow area I saw my mom and Kevin standing over Samantha who lied in the dirt looking over her shoulder. From the rear dangled two giant sacks of fluid, which Paula would slice open with the cuchillo she called for from Elsa over in the kitchen. Once they splashed to the ground, Sammy began licking up the nutrients while Paula went to work tying a rope to the hoof of the baby just barely reaching out. She called for Kevin and I to grab the rope and put our backs into it. We were putting in work while Elsa and Paula were working on providing a smooth exit. In the beginning we saw only a nose and a limp tongue hanging out, but before we knew it we were stumbling back and a calf was lying at our feet. We named the slimy niña Daisy. She was about the size of a full grown lab and was getting a heavy salt rub from Elsa (good for the calf and the moms stomach when she starts to clean her baby). Within minutes of her birth Daisy was trying to stand. It took her about 15, and as soon as she was up she was stumbling towards her mama´s giant udder.

Four days later Daisy is living the life, drinking fresh milk and sleeping on beds of hay. Kevin and I literally pulled a cow onto this Earth and that’s an experience I’ll look back on for a long time. Looking forward to more…

-Love to my family, my Girlfriend, Cliff and Sue and everyone else