I was embarrassed to ask this man to take his picture. His face was half paralyzed as if from a stroke, but he was willing and even looked off to one side when I asked.
A few weeks later I returned with a print to give as thanks. This time a woman approached me and asked what I wanted. I told her I was returning a favor, asked if she was his wife. She replied “more or less”. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Sunday morning on Cuesta Moyano, near Madrid’s Parque El Retiro, used book dealers display their treasures. Onlookers gather as the dealer opens boxes of books recently purchased from some estate, eager to find a rare edition or at least something that will sell.
Los domingos por la mañana en Cuesta Moyano, cerce del Parque El Retiro de Madrid, vendedores de libros usados abren sus tesoros, recien comprados de algúna herencia, ansiosos de encontrar una edición limitada excepcional o por lo menos algo que se puede vender.
Bull riding is a dangerous sport, and also the most exciting, so it always comes last in a rodeo. Boots, jeans and cowboy hats are almost required attire for everyone, not just those helping out. The rider has his helmet, protective vest and fringed chaps. A local cowboy walking down the street of my adopted city of Málaga would be as out of place as a Flamenco dancer at this Pottawotomie County Fair in Northwest Kansas.
Sunday afternoons the sounds of laughter drift over our next-door neighbor’s wall – deep hearty laughter, the sounds of friends enjoying pleasant conversation and probably good wine. José and Virginia and his mom Mely run a small neighborhood grocery store just down the hill.
José is a bricklayer by trade, but jobs are scarce. Mely’s husband died a few years ago, so they all help keep the household together. And Sunday afternoons, their only free time during the week, they relax. And laugh.
My son needed a suit adjusted. (You’re wondering why a seventeen-year-old kid would wear a suit. It’s for a play.) He’s fairly thin for his height so the jacket, trousers, vest and shirt all needed some tailoring. No problem for Pepa. A few pins here and there and she was done.
A week and a half and twenty euros laters he had a great fitting suit. And Pepa and Inés, the shop owner were quite willing to let me come back and take some photos.
I was surprised to learn that Pepa is my co-worker’s landlady. But then this part of Málaga is really a just a small town, with a small town feel.
Her earliest memories are of dust clouds blasting her Texas Panhandle home, and her mother wrapping the sugar bowl in a towel, only to find brown dust among the treasured crystals. She’s lived in four different countries, adapting to life in large South American cities and the primitive Amazon jungle, and all with a husband and five kids. After all that she found it difficult to settle down in small town Kansas. She is my earliest memory – my mother.
Manolo came into the store and María slipped him a couple of hard rolls. Then she scolded him for something he had said, just like a mother would. Manolo is a hoarder and he smells really bad. But María is really kind to him. She is kind to lots of people. Once she told me that there is more to life than money.
Pictures María took in places like Peru and Norway used to cover the walls, but slowly shots of her granddaughter Nebraska are edging them out – also Bruce Springsteen posters. Maybe when the economy gets better María will start traveling again. She told me she would like to visit India and maybe Canada.