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Monday, February 15, 2010

A Different Kind Of Souvenir

One of the disadvantages of coming to a place like this (by a place like 'this' I mean somewhere that's high up on the tourist radar) is the fact that if you sit around trying to enjoy a relaxing coffee you are hounded by local people trying to sell you little trinkets and souvenirs. Though it's annoying I understand that these people are just trying to make a living. It's one thing saying no to the adults but it breaks my heart saying no to the endless streams of children, some as young as four, who should be playing, or sleeping or doing the things that children should be doing.

As well as this you have the beggars, some of them able-bodied but obviously very, very poor, many of them with severe physical disabilities who live in a culture where there is no infrastructure to provide then with the help and support they need. I can't help but feel like a mean person for constantly saying no but, for one, I have not come out here as a rich tourist, yes I am privelaged to have been able to afford a plane ticket and enough money that I don't have to work, but I also had to earn that privelage by working as many hours as I possibly could. Not only that but I can't buy too much because I'm carrying it all in my rucksack for the next few months. I have been discarding things rather than accumulating them.

I did, however, get an interesting offer from a couple of young musicians. I saw them walk by me at first. They ummed and aahed about whether or not to approach me and then one egged the other on. He said that he sold lollipops and poems but that he had no lollipops to sell. He offered to write me a poem in Sapnish, about whatever topic I chose, and he would translate it in Engliah for me. The part that swung it for me was I could pay however much or little as I wanted. He said he'd do it for 1 peso (about 5p) so I offered him 20 peso (about 1 pound). It was a much more interesting and personal offer than I'd had before. So I asked him to write a poem about a girl travelling alone. It also had to include something about a tree.

There and then he took out his notebook and pen and started to write. It took him about 10 minutes and when he'd finished he read it first in Spanish then translated it (loosely) into English. He'd obviously an idea about what I was looking for as the poem was a bout a girl who rejected the norms of society to to go on adventure to find out who she was. I know it's a bit cheesy but most poetry and it's topics are. I gave him the 20 peso and he gave me my poem. A piece of paper isn't going to weigh me down atall. More importantly, it's individual and unique to me. I have come away with a souvenir that's lightweight and hasn't been mass-produced like the endless streams of jewellery, hammocks and rugs.


Nelly said...

Definitely different!

hootchinhannah said...

I bumped into him again today actually but I plan to do a post about it so won't say too much.