Ramon calls me “hermano” because of our shared faith. I’ve told him some of my personal burdens, and he always has an encouraging word. Our family has strong connections, so when I caught him with the sun on his face as he waited for his grandson by the school gate, I knew he was genuinely glad to see me.
I’ve asked Ramón if I could take a portrait of him and his wife, but he is busy helping with grandchildren, so I may have to settle for this.
She and her husband travel around Europe on bicycles, returning home to earn enough money to leave again. I encountered them at a Christmas fair in Rincón de la Victoria, near Málaga, just back from a trip through France.
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.
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.
Enrique and other men and boys from his village herded sheep ten months of the year, in Castilla León in the summer and Extremadura in the winter. In his early days they moved the sheep on foot and horseback, and later in trains and trucks. I found Enrique enjoying the sun on his daily walk outside the village, now only populated by old people and summer visitors.
The windows were grimy and the weathered boards hadn’t seen paint in decades.
I thought the place was deserted. The windows were grimy and the weathered boards hadn’t seen paint in decades. But the sign said it was open. Inside, saddles lined the wall and harnesses and bridles dangled from pegs. John was in the workshop in back. He was friendly enough, but I was from out of town. He had grown up in the trade, learning firsthand from his dad, and knew just about everyone in the area who had ever climbed up onto a saddle.
One of his ancestors had written about the local history in the mid 1800’s and John was hoping to get it in print. His roots ran long and deep in northeast Kansas. I was just passing through. I offered to send him a print, but he didn’t seem too interested.
Check out my gallery of interesting people here.