And then she was gone … but all was not lost

Lately there has been a little Andean woman roaming the downtown streets of Piura. She´s easy to spot in her traditional tall hat and colorful scarf that doubles as a backpack. She is short, slightly stout, and begging for money.

There are always people asking for money on the streets, sometimes it seems they ask just because they see we are travelers. Dame limosna, dame un sol, dame una propina.

When so many people ask, how do you decide who to give to? And how can you tell whether your “solcito” is going towards a good cause (like a healthy meal) or if it will be spent on candy, soda, alcohol, drugs… And wouldn´t it be more helpful if we donated our money to some cause that works to eliminate poverty, giving jobs and opportunities instead of giving a “limosna” that will last them a day?

But this little women, dressed in typical mountain attire, so far from the mountains, how did she get here and what is she doing? Our hearts felt for her, seeing her on the street corner as we walked to the grocery store, and so we ask her, “¿quiere pan?”

And so we bought her some bread (it was fresh, hot out of the oven, yummm), and then we returned to the street to bring her our gift. But she was nowhere to be found. We walked to the plaza, walked back around the main street, back and forth, searching, the bread now only slightly warm. She was gone. We walked on home, keeping our eyes open hoping we´d find her just around the next corner, feeling saddened that we could not deliver our promise.

But wait, who´s that up ahead? The man who wanders the streets of Castilla, shirtless, shoeless, his naked dirty bloated belly begging for him, for I´ve never seen him ask for money from anyone. “Amigo, quiere pan, pan fresco, caliente?” He looks at us, wordless, takes the bag, rips it open and then decides its contents worthy.

Swallowing huge bites of bread, he walks wordlessy down the dark street.

One Response to “And then she was gone … but all was not lost”
  1. Casey Thomas says:

    awesome post nata…. man, great story telling. sad topic for sure, but somehow the post left me feeling upbeat and hopeful, instead of depressed that people live in such cusco we made a friend of one of the little kids who sells handicrafts to tourists. none of us wanted any crafts, but we could tell his whole family was depending on him (might have been the mother with other children staring at him and us from the alleyway while her son performed to the best of his abilities), so we went with him to the grocery store and bought him some rice and beans and that kind of stuff. you should have seen his face… a 7 year old, bringing food for a week for his whole family back to his mother and siblings. what pride! and what a sad sad sad lesson it was for us privileged americanas, but still, we brought a smile to his face.

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