Ligia, a palabrero's wife and the mother of one of the teachers of Nazareth’s Indian boarding school (Colombian case study), lived in the school during the years it was moving to the building it occupies today (1). She experienced both buildings, which caught my attention. I knew about her while talking informally with her son. During the conversation, he offered to take me to Ligia’s home immediately and, although I wasn’t prepared for an interview, I couldn’t resist the offer. Once at her home, it became apparent that the teacher, Ligia’s son, wasn’t going to leave. His presence, I soon realized, prevented me from asking Ligia questions that might expose intimate aspects of her life, thus limiting the scope of my inquiry. Another problem arose when I noticed that Ligia wasn’t understanding my questions. Although educated at the boarding school, her Spanish was poor and I don’t speak wayuunaiki, the Wayúu’s language, which comes from the Arawak spoken by some Latin American tribes. Desperate to get information from such a valuable source, I began to ask her leading questions, mistakenly pushing Ligia to tell me what I wanted to hear. All this almost comic situation happened under the silent scrutiny of Ligia’s son. Embarrased, I wrapped up and finished the interview. Yes, I got the interview, but a terrible one that is useful only to remind me what I shouldn’t do.
1. In the Wayúu society the palabrero (worder) is the person who, using the skill of conversation, helps to solve problems among people.The real name of the interviewee has been changed to protect her identity.