Ana Elisa Sotelo
Edition 2022 - IWPA Special Mention
Las Truchas: A School of Women
Lima, Peru was one of the cities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. During phases I and II of lockdown, citizens under 12 and over 65 years of age were not allowed to enter markets, public spaces or public transportation, and their care was often left to the responsibility of women staying at home, limiting women’s free time and possibilities to carry out activities unrelated to the household. In later phases, those over 65 were only allowed to go outside for brief periods and only to exercise. When Peru entered phase III, a group of three women ventured out into Lima’s frigid ocean to practice open water swimming. They called themselves “Las Truchas” (“The Trout”). From the cold water they emerged transformed: the challenge, discipline and effort it took to swim helped heal the trauma derived from the pandemic, and they set out to arouse this sentiment in other women. In swimming together, they found solidarity, sisterhood and resilience.
Today, there are over 60 of us “Truchas” between the ages of 16 and 73. As a “Trucha” I have documented transformative power of being a part of this “cardumen” (“school”) of women. As the group grows in size, the routes get wilder and our projects have materialized into collective works of art, which we call “Unity Circles.” From an 800-person Unity Circle to generate community resilience during a time of political crisis around a 116 meter-long training ship, to a 30-person Circle around our eldest “Trucha” to celebrate her 73rd birthday, this on-going documentary project showcases women’s collective power and will to thrive in times of crisis.