Today Goyo’s young uncle, José Reyes, came from Arroyo Grande to ask for more medicine for his 3 year-old child with cretinism. José’s green eyes flashed with pleasure as he told me how, finally, the poor deaf child had begun to crawl and to stand up. The medicine (a four month supply) was now running out. I gave him an additional quantity of Thyroxin, enough for 2 years.

Later, with the Chavaríns, we began to talk about children born with cretinism. They insisted emphatically that Ramón’s 14 year old brother, Goyito, “el petón” (thick lip), was born as he was because his mother, when she was pregnant with him, had seen a food that whetted her appetite, yet which she had refrained from eating. For this reason, the child had been born with his tongue lolling out! Mothers-to-be, they moralized, must be very careful to yield to temptation.

Another child in Carrizál, they continued, was born with a condition, apparently megacephalia. (Tiene la cabeza tan grande como una calabaza.) They assured me that the oversized head was due to a precious stone, diamond-like, but large, imbedded inside the skull. They were surprised when I laughed at this idea. They insisted that it was “¡por cierto!” Everyone knew it to be so, and there were even persons who went around buying these children in order to open up their skulls and remove the precious stone, no great crime, since they all die in their seventh year anyway. The mother of the child in Carrizál had been offered a considerable sum of money for her megacephalic child, they said, but had refused because “no se animó.”

I asked who were the child buyers. No one was quite sure. Opinion indicated that it was “los Americanos.”