Mas Concrete

Here’s a picture of Rigoberto, whom I mentioned at the end of the last concrete email:

Rigoberto shared his glove with me, so that I could cover my bandaged hand and avoid any further injury or infection.

I mentioned my herniated disc here and here: there were several pieces to that story, though.  I would take breaks from our work so that my back could rest for a few moments.  Although I aimed for discretion, it wasn’t always a success.  Case in point, my conversation with Ever.

Ever was a Guatemalan Police Officer, with la ciudad, and he had wandered over from Paso a Paso to watch us while we worked.  He introduced himself “My name is Ever, like For-Ever.”

Ever and I began to chat in my broken Spanish and his broken English.  It’s possible to learn much, in spite of the language barriers, when you really listen: gestures, facial expressions, shared candy.  It’s all there.  Ever asked me about our group–I tried to explain that I had only just met the teenagers, and that they had come from the north (Michigan) while I had come from the east (near Washington, D.C.).

When he realized I was from DC, Ever shared with me about a cousin of his who was in Virginia, working as a day laborer, doing much the same work as what we were doing.  Ever and I talked about his cousin’s journey into the United States, which had been a dangerous journey through the desert– I imagine it was one where he snuck into the country.  More than anything, I wanted to have the language to discuss this issue with him.  Instead, all I could manage was to say over and over again what I thought meant “It’s broken… It’s no good for anyone: not us in the States, not people who want to come to the US.”  Words can create nuance, and I was lacking in the correct words.  I felt a smidge of what I imagine Ever’s cousin might feel in Virginia: why couldn’t I just express what I wanted to? What was Ever thinking about my skills? It was so frustrating that I couldn’t find the right words and I could only think in present tense (mixed with Italian). Continue reading

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