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Tuwaliri Paketzalli

Abuela Tuwaliri Paketzalli is formally trained as a medical doctor. A longtime member of the Dominican Communist Party, she actively studied Western medicine and practiced acupuncture, but did not believe in anything else besides the will of the people. It was after the death of her mother in 2013 that she began to “retomar” – recuperate – the traditional beliefs, practices and healing methods with which her mother had raised her. She recounted to us how, as a girl, she and her sisters washed their hair in the river with a plant that grows there, and how now, she intentionally propagates that same plant in the small creek that runs through the10 acre forest she cares for. She didn’t ingest modern medicine until she was in her mid-20s, and now in her late 60s, she has returned to managing her health and the health of the women in her community through diet and herbs. She learned how to run a temazkal from Mexica sisters in Mexico and the U.S. In 2017, her temazkal was “planted” in her back yard. The main issues in her community are malnutrition and sexual violence.

Tuwaliri Paketzalli walks across a field planted with corn, peppers and other food plants. Here she is in front of her cayena.

Interviews

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Cloud Forest

In mid-summer, the temperature was 71 degrees and there were three different kinds of pine trees in the forest. The forest, located on a hill in the middle of a valley, is mutually cared for by all of the community residents.