Monday, March 01, 2010

March 1 - The Street Children

Chiapas is the poorest of Mexico’s states. In the main plaza I find myself surrounded by shoe shine boys. I gave one boy a peso because I thought that’s what he wanted to shine my shoes.
“Peso! No, cinco pesos!!” he said while holding up one hand, five fingers spread. I pull a five peso coin out of my pocket and indicate I want my peso back. He protests I explain that if he wants the five pesos he must give my back my peso. He obliges, the deal is struck and I sit down to get my shoes shined.
The other boys were disappointed and asked, :Why him?” The boy shining my shoes thought he had the answer, “It’s because I speak English.”
“Where did you learn to speak English?” I ask.
“In school.” Obviously a quick learner and a fine shiner of shoes.

At lunch I couldn’t eat any of my salad. I had ordered too much food. I asked for it to go. After carrying it around for an hour or two I knew I wasn’t going to eat it and so began looking for a garbage bin to put it in.
A girl scurried across the street, somehow she knew what I was looking for. She asked if she could have the package, she didn’t know what it was, but it was a perfectly good untouched cheese and tomato salad. I was so glad she had come to rescue the salad that was about to go into the trash.

In the evening shoe shine boys came into the restaurant where I was eating. “I’ve already had my shoes shined.” I told them, as I handed each a peso. They ask if they can have bread from my bread basket. After I gave permission they grabbed all the bread out of the basket. I thought about all the bread baskets that have sat on restaurant tables where I had left the bread uneaten and wondered where the bread went.
Each room in No Bolom has a fireplace, someone kindly piles the wood just right and quickly after the wood is ignited there is a blazing fire But the fire doesn’t warm me, the bed is piled high with quilts and blankets. Eventually my body heat creates a comfy bed. But what a shock to the senses getting up in the morning.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The skirts the women are wearing are made from wool - they are shepherdesses. They use a comb to pull some of the wool out - the hairy look is a "new fashion".

It must have been laughable for the woman you told that you were poor (and staying at NaBolom!).

Diary of a third age woman said...

Thanks for the information about the skirts. I asked abut them at the Museum, but I suppose my Spanish wasn't good enough to get my point across.

As for my poverty, it's relative. The woman would not have known where I was staying, but I was eating in a very expensive restaurant.

In Canada, my pension brings me below the poverty line. In Mexico I have a fairly descent middle class income.

What I mean when I say I'm poor is sometimes understood, I think. There is much poverty in the world and I can't solve all of it - or much of it - or any of it.