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.
Just outside Siloam Springs on my way to Tulsa I happened upon a flea market and stopped to look for treasure. I dream of discovering a classic camera hidden among the junk.
This vendor was adjusting her CD player, treating the customers to Mexican ballads.
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.
She sauntered out of a passageway, sat down, pulled out a cigarette and took a long drag – a secluded corner hidden from the mass of party-goers. I’m sure she saw me but during fair week in Málaga people don’t mind having their picture taken. Some even pose without me asking. One doesn’t dress up for nothing! Downtown during August fair week is crazy, happy, crowded, hectic and beautiful – a photographer’s dream.
Check out my Feria de Málaga gallery here.