Somos Pobres

The smoke from her harsh and scrap-wood fire burned my eyes as I stood there and watched the dark-skinned woman roll and mash the little balls of flour and water and what-not, pressing them, flattening them so, and then laying them gently on the griddle that sat on three stones, black from use.  I moved to the other side and upwind from the fire and the breeze changed directions to meet me again.  Without looking at me, she smiled and said, “Sientate alla,” as she pointed to a tumble-down chair next to the shack…sit over there.

She had dirty hands and wide hips, large and loose breasts that swayed with her movements, a musky and smokey scent and broken teeth, shoulder-length hair with frayed ends, and lines around her brown-black eyes and mouth in her young and old skin.

Her brown and scarred hands reached over the fire and turned the tortillas, flipping them gently, brown eyes watching, absently or admiringly, as they sizzled for a second and then raised, doubling in height, growing from thin to thicker and brown and rich and falling again in their cooked flatness.  In the same movement from turning the tortillas, she reached for a ladel and stirred the beans and ham-bones in the pot, black too, that sat on the ground with the fire on its side.  Steam and the smells of wood-smoke and chilis and beans rose from the little cauldron and ran into the air and caught in my senses…where they remained for the day…along with the images and sounds of the morning there with the weak light slowly brightening through the trees of the wood…chickens pecking the dirt around broken-down cars and trucks with their rusted doors and bumpers, flattened tires cracked and gone in seasons passed and passing.

The woman moved around the fire, sitrring and flipping, this way and that, avoiding the smoke and the dog that lay nearby.  She watched me in my looking around, in my watching of her and her hands, her hips, her eyes.  As she brought me a plate with her morning fare, she looked directly into my eyes and said, “Ten…somos pobres, pero somos ricos, tambien…ricos en las cosas de la vida, la humanidad…y amor….”  Take it…we’re poor, but we’re rich, as well…rich in the things of life, humanity…and love….

Gracias, Yaneli…de veras….  It’s true….

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45 responses

  1. Mary Lou Rutledge

    Wonderful.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

    • Thank you, Mary Lou. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 10:33 am

  2. Cool anecdote.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:44 am

    • Thank you, Lilly. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

  3. Smashing story Scott. Thank you for sharing it. “Ten…somos pobres, pero somos ricos, tambien…ricos en las cosas de la vida, la humanidad…y amor….” how true that so often is.

    April 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

    • Thank you, Chillbrook…and yes, it often is. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  4. This is the scene we see, in thousands of villages , in our country. People, generous and warm. Heartwarming tale.

    April 12, 2012 at 11:43 am

    • Thank you, Pattu…I love the generosity that rises above what we would normally see as a destitute existence.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:26 pm

  5. Like the story, but really love the picture. Love old buildings 😉

    April 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    • Thank you, Yvonne; I was going to just have the door by itself, but the story seemed to come along and ask to be there with it. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm

  6. I love the way the light catches the door. Wonderful story.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    • Thank you, Meanderer. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

  7. Beautiful picture and story!

    April 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    • Thank you, Madhu. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

  8. Nicely crafted Scott. Woven together and stitched by good hands.

    April 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    • Thank you, Mike…I appreciate your nice words. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm

  9. What great story – well written. But you’ve left me wondering – did it taste as good as the story?

    April 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    • Thank you for your very nice words, Andy…and I’m afraid that I’ll have to leave you wondering. Sometimes our stories are like the pictures we make…sometimes the captured images fully represent what we actually saw, and sometimes they don’t. And on those occasions when they don’t, we might touch-them-up a little bit, add some color or shadow…or even move the words on a wall so that a nearby person’s head isn’t crowded by the letters, so the picture doesn’t look disorganized or otherwise not-just-right. And with our stories, sometimes they happened precisely the way we tell them, and are true…and sometimes they never happened, but are true to the tiniest detail…. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

  10. Goosebumps.
    A beautiful story.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    • Thank you, Karen. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

  11. I’ve known quite a few people with lots of money that were miserable, and quite a few that didn’t have a pot to piss in that were very happy. I think happiness is in the eye of the beholder, as long as the basic human needs are met. The man with no shoes is rich, when compared to the man with no feet.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    • All about perspective, Marcy…thank you. 🙂

      April 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm

  12. I have been poor in the past. Real dirt floor poor, and as I look back on those times I know that I was rich as well-rich with the freedom of having nothing that it would upset me to lose. And rich with love-surrounded by people who loved me even though I had nothing but myself to offer. It’s easy to see now, but the problem lies in the fact that at the time you’re too busy surviving to realize just how blessed you are. Only through hindsight can we see that we once had everything, even though we owned nothing.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:59 am

    • Being so busy surviving, Allen, certainly changes our perspectives and doesn’t allow us to see the good or more important things in our lives…. Very touching commentary…thank you for sharing something so personal here. I do appreciate your thoughts. I’m glad you’re here. 🙂

      April 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

      • You’re welcome Scott-glad to be here. Your story struck a nerve and brought back some good memories.

        April 13, 2012 at 9:58 am

        • I’m glad they were good memories, Allen…. 🙂

          April 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm

  13. I love the contrast of colours~

    April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

    • Thank you, Eve. 🙂

      April 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm

  14. Wonderful, stirring story, Scott. Thought-provoking and vivid: both the story and the photograph.

    April 14, 2012 at 7:17 am

    • Thank you, Melanie…very nice comment. 🙂

      April 14, 2012 at 7:20 am

  15. CJ

    Beautiful work Scott. And tender.

    April 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

    • Thank you, CJ…and what a treasure to see you here. 🙂

      April 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      • CJ

        Thank you for being so welcoming.

        April 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

        • I love your work, CJ, and I’m touched that you have visited and enjoyed mine, too. You are always welcome here….

          April 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm

  16. Thank-you for presenting a tale of dignity. The last line did not surprise me because you had just presented her so beautifully. RIch, indeed. Gracias.

    April 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

    • Thank you for your very nice words, Cathy…and you are most welcome. Y, de nada, amiga mia. 🙂

      April 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

  17. Noble Sailor

    Humbling, wonderful piece…thank you so much

    April 16, 2012 at 11:32 am

    • Such nice words, my noble sailor friend…thank you. And you are welcome. I’ve missed you here…and just plain missed you, too.

      April 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm

  18. And she is so right! I’ve met many people like her, people who teach you that being rich doesn’t mean being loaded but caring, generous, sensible, empathetic (not sympathetic!), down-to-earth, humble, grateful… human, in one word.
    Thanks for a such a beautiful reminder. Gorgeous pic too.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:23 am

    • Yes, Puerta Tornada, she is so right…to be rich in kindness and humanity is much better than to be rico en las cosas del mundo…. Thank you for visiting and for leaving a comment so that I know you were here. 🙂

      July 25, 2012 at 7:02 am

      • And that I enjoyed your post too 😉

        July 25, 2012 at 7:03 am

        • Thank you very much…y mucho gusto! 🙂

          July 25, 2012 at 7:13 am

          • El gusto es mio 🙂
            Hasta pronto.

            July 25, 2012 at 7:16 am

          • Gracias! 🙂

            July 25, 2012 at 7:17 am

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