17 Jun, 2013 | Caterina Stahl
Photo: Caterina Stahl
Name: Emma Ramos
Job: Making fresh juice
Doña Emma appears lost in deep thought at first look, but her smile lines readily deepen as soon as she breaks into a well-worn sonrisa.
Craving some fresh hand-squeezed juice? Back home in Maine, USA I could only buy such a thing at an organic hippie fair (and only during the summer), or by making it myself. Since arriving in Bolivia a few weeks ago I’ve become spoiled by the abundance of fresh juice. Orange and grapefruit? Mango and banana? The fruit combinations seem endless, and come with milk, water, or just pure undiluted juice, or zumo. The creators behind these healthy treats are men and women, usually sitting behind a small stand or pushing a juice cart.
In my quest to learn more about this occupation I decided to talk with a real juicerista to make it more personal. Enter Emma Ramos.
Doña Emma appears lost in deep thought at first look, but her smile lines readily deepen as soon as she breaks into a well-worn sonrisa. For twenty years she has been squeezing (or one might even say squeezing by) for a living. Now, at fifty-two, Doña Emma is still making fresh juice to support her family. There is a lot of competition among street vendors in general, but juicers in particular. Many are known to be fiercely territorial.
Doña Emma started selling juice when she detected a location with untapped juice-selling potential. She has never looked back and has now been selling juice for two decades. ‘I used to bring my son when he was three and now he is twenty three!’ Ramos lives with her companion and has two children. ‘I used to be a housewife but we lacked money’.
Doña Emma works from eleven ‘til five, almost every day. ‘I work for rent and food but it’s not enough all the time.’ As she gets older the job takes its toll on her. She has to push the large cart full of oranges and grapefruits by herself most days. 'I have pain in my belly and side.' I was amazed at the initiative and strength Doña Emma showed. Here’s a woman about thirty years my senior who’s more physically active in a day then I possibly am in a week.
After downing my orange-grapefruit zumo I handed the cup back to Doña Emma feeling refreshed in many ways. The juice of course left a clean healthy feeling in my body but I also left with a fresh perspective on what incentives people will take to support their families.