Sunday, December 16, 2007

Grinding, eye wrenching poverty

We just moved from Alamos where we spent the last week over to Refugio Infantil de Navajoa, recently renamed We had a wonderful time in Alamos, as usual, and got reacquainted with our friends there. Friday night we got invited to a TGIF party put on by some of the expats in town. We should have known better - we have hung out with that crowd before and always regretted it. Imagine a roomful of nouveau riche, everyone wearing exactly the right designer sweater and the right gucci sandals and everyone looking for someone important to hang out next to. Clearly we weren't who they wanted to hang out with and the feeling was mutual. The occasion was the sale of one of the houses close to the centre of town. They were trying to sell some of the art and excess furntiture so that potential buyers could actually see the house. The house is listed for $435,000.

So from one extreme to the other. Today we took Manuel & Delphina up to Obregon to see their adopted son, Chiquire (I really don't know how to spell his name - that's my best guess). Anyway, we left early this morning and drove to Obregon, about 1-1/2 hours away. Chiki is working at a new carwash on the southwest side of Obregon, making 800 pesos per week, for 6 days work (about $80). His home is on the northeast side of town, probably 5 miles away. He gets to work every day on his bicycle.

After visiting with Chiki we drove across town to see his wife and 3 year old daughter. We drove through the better parts of town and then farther and farther into the barrio. Finally we stopped in front of an adobe "house" - two rooms, set back from the street behind a barb wire fence. It turned out that was Chiki's wife's parents' house. Behind that in a shack that appeared to be built out of partially adobe, partially corrugated iron and partially cardboard is where Chiki's family lives. It was one of those spots where your eyes don't know where to look because there is so much poverty in every direction and it hurts no matter where you look. Dirt floor, a few pieces of old furniture obviously scavenged from a dump somewhere, pullout couch for a bed. Dirt everywhere, some dirty dishes balanced precariously on a table in the area that obviously serves as a kitchen. Taking a picture would have felt like voyeurism. And to cap it all off the daughter was recently diagnosed with epilepsy.

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