Those who have traveled with me know that I am an easy mark and have more than once called me a sucker. I prefer to think I’m generous.
It is true that folks, particularly children, seem to know immediately that I’m a soft touch for a sad story. It is also generally true that when presented with a hard luck story I readily cough up.
Indira, whom I met in Santiago de Cuba, recognized this quality in me immediately and told me I was a sucker. Indira , whose given name is Dirys Adams Wilson, asked if she could spend time with us to practice her already quite good English, so we spent the afternoon together talking and drinking beer while she and her friend ate chicken and french fries.
Indira, aside from being about the cutest woman I have ever met, was obviously quite intelligent and very funny. She would tell a joke and laugh uproariously while slapping her knee and exclaiming “Oh my God”. Here she is clowning around with a cigar. It was a delightful afternoon.
But back to the matter at hand, my suckerhood, as it were.
Today upon our return from the trip to have the carrocera installed we stopped to have lunch in La Joya. La Joya is home to many, many shops that sell cheese produced in the area, gingerbread cookies, and flat cakes resembling angel food cake. There are also folks, of all ages, stationed at the topes (speed bumps intended to slow traffic in populated areas) and in front of the many restaurants along the highway vending the cookies and cakes.
Before I was able to get out of the truck children holding bags of cake and gingerbread cookies began congregating. There was one particularly cute little girl, from whom I think I bought cake once before at a tope when passing through town, who had quite a good act and was quite persistent.
She followed me from the truck to the restaurant repeatedly bleating, with a very sad expression,”por favor, solo veinte pesos senor”, “por favor, solo veinte pesos jefe”. Her bleatings were interspersed with smiles which seem to acknowledge that I knew her bleatings were an act. I told her “eres muy buena actriz”, which elicited a smile, and told her I would buy some cake when I had finished lunch.
There were also a couple of woman selling moss and dried dried grass for use in constructing nativity scenes who were quite persistent. (I didn’t tell them that there is as good a chance of my constructing a nativity scene as there is of George Bush telling the truth.)
Word had apparently been spread as children with sweet bread, cookies, and the same bleating act began congregating around our table before we had finished lunch. As we walked from the restaurant to the truck I felt like the Pied Piper, as it seemed that every child in the area was following, while their parents looked on approvingly.
As we left I bought sweet bread from the little girl actress, bought some cookies from another good actor, gave money to the woman selling nativity scene materials as they told me their kids needed something to eat, and distributed every bit of change to the other children who had followed me to the truck.
The children here are generally very polite, even when persistently vending their wares; and I find most children to be more interesting, entertaining and honest than most adults. So am happy to pass out money to them.
I can also report that while waiting for the carrocera installation we walked over to look at the really nice hand made, wool vests, serapes, scarves, and other garments hung on ropes aside the highway. I asked the woman attending the goods, who reported that she had made the items, how much was a nice gray and white wool vest, trimmed in tan and brown and outfitted with a couple wooden buttons. She responded $120. pesos. Tere piped in and talked the woman down to $100. I gave her $120 anyway as it seemed like an awful lot of work to produce the vest.