Today when we walked past the dogs who have free rein of the streets, the graffiti on the walls, the broken windows, the piles of trash, the abandoned stores and cafes, and worse, I didn't see them quite the same way as I did that first evening when the bus let us off by the park and told us we'd find the Inn because it couldn't be far. Dragging our luggage we walked along the broken sidewalks along streets with no names. Finally a young man who was working on his pickup told us to turn left and then turn right and then turn left two more times. OK.
|Poor man's patio|
Little children learn to be vendors: At dinner last night two beautiful children stopped at our table.
In the neighborhood, though, no one tries to sell us anything. They live here. This is the home world. It isn't the tourist world. Here the cafes are owned by the neighbors and serve the neighbors. Estella directed us to the cafe operated by her friend from church. The menu was expansive, but few offerings were actually on hand. After not very long at all, my focus turned to the people rather than the things around them. Slowly as the hours passed my notions of beautiful and desirable went through a transformation. Even my notions about danger changed. I started seeing that chair under the tree that we pass twice or more times a day as a place where someone actually sits to relax in the shade, rather than a misplaced piece of furniture. It's a little thing, to be sure, but a significant cultural shift.
|You stop seeing the strangeness of clothes lines right downtown, and begin to be aware of the care with which the clothes are hung.|