Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aqui estoy ... con concierto

So I went to a concert last night. A big one! It was very fun and also an interesting cultural experience. We saw Train, Ziggy Marley and Shakira. I really enjoyed Train and Shakira; Ziggy Marley just isn't my type of music.
I felt a little bad for the first two because the crowd wasn't very responsive. But really, did they expect to come to Lima and speak English to a crowd of Shakira fans and feel the love?
Here's the interesting part: we arrived earlier than the time on the ticket and joined the very, very long line of people. Walking up and down this line were people selling things, similar to at the beach but in this case food, beer, sodas, posters, DVDS, glowsticks, etc... We even saw a guy selling "chifa" - he had a giant bowl full of noodles with some things on top, including hot dog slices. They are constant and even pushy, pushing their wares in your face and bumping into people to get their attention. Unfortunately, the best way to deal with it is to just ignore them but I really hate to do it. As they kept coming and coming I was thinking about what their lives must be like and what led them to this job. Did they grow up as one of the kids I see, being sent to beg or sell by their parents in hopes of gaining compassion? I hate that these people have to walk up and down, carrying heavy loads, almost begging; that they spend their days having backs turned and heads shaken at them. Some pick up the discarded plastic bottles, apparently to return for money somewhere. (That's another issue entirely...the litter here) Lima has a lot of great things but it also has a long way to go and the sheer magnitude of the poverty is one of the biggest problems. There is a large socioeconomic gap that sometimes gapes inescapably.
What I can't get out of my head is what a friend who works with the homeless told me once. She spent a day living as a homeless person would and found that one of the worst things was how no one would make eye contact with her, how she seemed to cease to be a person to them. I don't want to ever do that to someone, not to the street sellers nor to the street beggars nor to anyone else.
I can't change the system in four months and I can't save everyone but I still don't want to be part of the problem.
Thoughts anyone?

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