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