Peruvians Who Inspire Me

Posted on 03. Oct, 2008 by in peru

Dani’s a ten year-old girl who works with her mother at the corner of Don Bosco and San Pedro. Her mother is a chocolatera – a street vendor of candy, snacks, drinks, and cigarettes. After school Dani works with her mother until 9 or 10 pm. She also spends her weekends on that corner. She’s growing up much different than I did.

Dani has a great spirit and killer personality.  She doesn’t look anything like her mother, who decades of poverty has taken its toll on (overweight, brown and wrinkly, missing teeth, dirty clothes). Dani’s almost fair-skinned, her clothes are always clean, and her hair is fine, neat, and always combed. She’s very cute.

After she started to recognize me walking past her snack cart every night, she started to wave and say “¡Hola, amigo!” Every time I walk by, she excitedly waves and says, “¡Hola, amigo!” I reply, “¡Hola, amiga!” I’ve often gone out of my way to buy something  from them, or even bought something when I didn’t want anything just to talk to Dani.

I wish I was rich so I could send her to college. Like in the fairy tales when a rich guy is charmed by the poor kid and bankrolls the education. If I were rich I’d do that for Dani. One night I asked her if she likes to read and she said she did. A few nights laterI gave her my copy of La Cabaña de Tio Tom (Uncle Tom’s Cabin). It’s a condensed, for-kids version (I don’t read Spanish well so I have to start with these kinds of books). I’ll also give her, after I’ve finished them, Conde de Monte Cristo (Count of Monte Cristo) and Las Mil Y Una Noches (Arabian Nights).

The Shoelaces Guy is a delight.  This old man, about 5′ / 90 lbs, covers his body and arms with hanging shoelaces to sell downtown. He brings a joy to his work by loudly grunting “¡Cordones!” Or when he sees me, “Shoelaces!”  I laughed out loud the first time he did it. Months later when I needed new shoelaces, I prowled the downtown streets looking for this guy instead of going to a store.

On a side street behind Don Bosco, my barber charges three soles ($1) per cut. Despite being the only gringo to go in, he always asks where I’m from. Then he goes into about American history. The Revolutionary War, the Louisiana Purchase, the Great Experiment. He always finishes our discussion by mentioning that America’s independence was an inspiration for the world, especially the Spanish colonies in South America.

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One Response to “Peruvians Who Inspire Me”

  1. Harry

    29. May, 2013

    I’m 99% sure I saw shoelices guy (Central Arequipa, right?) a few months ago. His enthusiastic sales pitch gave me a little chuckle too.

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