One evening a couple of weeks ago, during my Dusty care days, as I was taking Dusty on his obligatory three kilometer evening walk I came upon a young fellow, perhaps ten or eleven, sitting on the curb having a pastry snack and a coke. Setting next to him was a rack of baseball type caps that he carries along the streets hawking his wares.
Given that my head’s natural protection from the sun has diminished over the years I find it necessary to wear a cap while in the sun. The cap I had been wearing had developed a prominent sweat ring, and as I am a soft touch for children whose lot in life requires them to work, I stopped to peruse the fellow’s wares.
As I was discussing the price and making my selection the young fellow alerted me to the fact that Dusty was examining, if not actually sampling, his pastry snack. I admonished Dusty as the young fellow assured me that there was no problem. I picked out a hat, adorned with the logo of the Cruzazul soccer club, and paid the boy twice what he was asking.
One routinely here sees children working, either in their own business, like the cap selling youngster; in their family business; or, for example, bagging groceries. I usually end up buying from or tipping the youngsters.
I remember, some years ago, when I visited Ixtapa there were lots of children walking along the streets and through the restaurants selling gum or other wares. I bought gum from each of them and a pod of carved stone dolphins from a young girl, in a crisp, ruffled pink dress, who had come into the restaurant and moved from table to table displaying her wares. One evening while walking along the street one particularly creative young fellow fell in stride beside me, stroked a ribbed water bottle with a stick as his percussive accompaniment, and sang Guantanamera to me. I of course dug into my pocket for money.
The children here in Merida, even those who are obviously poor, are clean, polite and generally ready with a smile. It seems to me that everyone here, like in Cuba, loves the children and that they are well cared for.