Last time I wrote about being here, I told you about the curiosity of the people, men and children mostly. I, of course, like any other white skinned woman in a very desolate brown-skinned town, would get looks by some women too. It’s all natural and it doesn’t bother me because I have no attention on that fact. I understand it, acknowledge its existence and know that I am the stranger here. I am delighted to be here, I respect this place, these people, their way of life and their lives have not before included me. So, as a stranger in a strange land, I do not feel I am entitled to feel anything but wonder and love for every one.
In every shop I have gone to, the same question comes up, in variations of thickness in accent, pace of wording, and intonations of the speaker. “Where from madam?”. The first couple of times, I had to think with it for a moment. They are asking me where I am from. So, I took a moment and answered, “L.A.” and some people were not familiar with that, so I took it a little bit farther, “California,” and for some, just “America.”. Yesterday, I met a tailor where I had a dress fitted for someone. His assistant was a mute. He wasn’t deaf, but “he doesn’t speak,” the tailor said.
I turned to the assistant and asked, “You don’t speak?”
He shook his head, no. But he smiled.
I said, “you just do this?” and I held up both thumbs and smiled like a silly Mike Meyers movie. He copied me. That was really priceless.
When I looked for another gift, a man and soon two others were there trying to help me find what I wanted to buy. They were trying so hard to figure out what I wanted and when it seemed my explanation was clearer, one of them brought me across the road to a little shop that he knew sold those things. His attention was very helpful. No one here looks at me in a manner unsuitable, no one is acting like a horny, punchy Italian. There is nothing like that here in this town, in this part of the country. The respect seems quite mutual.
I can bargain like anyone else. There is no one here who is trying to rip me off or overprice their wares because of the color of my skin… they may tone the spiciness of the food down a notch (not too much) but they certainly will allow me to bargain with them like anyone else would.
I am so grateful for the people in this village. What an amazing journey and an amazing welcome to be here. No matter if there is that curiosity factor which makes them line up and watch me as I take this picture, I still feel comforted that there is no malice, merely a friendly curiosity and a very real willingness to have me be part of their little village while I am here.