20 April 2015

Seeing Things: Part 2B - PEOPLE (Children)

This is the a continuation of my blog series dedicated to taking the time to stop and see the amazing things that go on around us, this time it is children. 

I have always found children fascinating to listen to and to watch.  I love the honesty, the curiosity, the imagination, the laughter and the trust.  Going through our photo collection the other day, I came across many pictures of children, that made me remember other times, situations or made me chuckle.  Here are a few that I think are worth sharing.

The Dreamer  When my niece was 5 years old we had a family gathering in Tennessee.  While everyone else went hiking, I took her and her older sister & friend,  to Dollywood (yep, the home of Dolly Parton).  After riding the 'big people' rides, I asked Trestin if she'd like to go to the 'younger kids' section.  Off we went to the carousel, where she carefully eyed all of the horses, elephants & assorted creatures going round and round.  She picked a beautiful blue dragon to ride.  As I stood beside her, she looked at me with these huge eyes and declared in a very serious voice "I have dreamed of riding a dragon my whole life".  At five, her life was now complete.

The Entrepreneur  We were in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, touring the largest city in the Caribbean. While standing outside a church taking photos, I felt something on my foot. I looked down and there was a boy, 8 or 9 years old, putting shoe polish on my sandal!  I politely thanked him but said (in my limited Spanish) no, thank you, I didn't need my sandals polished. He insisted that I truly did and started following us as we walked away. All day long, as we left a church, a museum, the home of Bartholomew Columbus (younger brother of Christopher and founder of Santo Domingo), wherever we went, he was patiently waiting outside for us. As we walked down a street, he quietly followed behind. We continued to tell him 'no', but he was not deterred. He insisted he needed a peso to bring food to his family. A lot of these "Shoe Shine Boys" are homeless, but a large proportion come from lower income families that need the money to provide the necessities for the family. The boys are not begging, they are working for the few pesos they make in a day (typically around 100 pesos or $2.50).  A lot do attend school and have a surprising knowledge of their city and make great tour guides.  Our young lad, was nothing if not persistent and determined.  At the end of the day, where again, he was outside a building waiting for us, we finally asked "Do you want us to adopt you and take you home with us".  With a very large grin he replied "si, si".  I finally relented, allowed him to polish my sandals, gave him a good tip, which prompted a sturdy hand shake, a "muchas gracias" and then watched him depart with a big grin, dragging his shoe shine box down the street.

The Entertainers
The Entertainers  We did a bike tour near Cabarete, Dominican Republic, where we were transported to the top of a mountain and then rode our bikes down.  The local children would come running out to the road, holding their hands out for us to slap as we passed by (a wee bit dangerous when you are careening down a mountain on a bicycle).  At one point there was an option of going 'back country', which involved riding through lots of mud and water.  I opted to wait at a pretty little lake where our shuttle would pick us up.  As I stood there taking pictures, a group of children approached.  They were fascinated with the digital camera (something uncommon in those days).  They all wanted their picture taken and would giggle when they saw themselves on the tiny screen.  The oldest boy went into the water and very patiently tried scooping up tiny shrimp in his hands. After about 10 minutes he caught one and brought it to me. He motioned that I was to eat it, when I shook my head he quickly popped the shrimp into his mouth. Back to the water, back to me with another shrimp. This time I tried it (not bad)

Catching Shrimp
The children kept doing things to entertain me, I kept taking their pictures and they kept laughing and pointing at their images. 

The Climb

Eventually my 'shrimp catcher' points up to a cliff, points to himself, mimics climbing, diving and me taking pictures.  I have visions of this poor child tumbling down the cliff, hitting his head on a rock - I keep shaking my head 'no, no', he keeps nodding his head 'si, si'.  Off he goes, climbs this cliff, points at me and dives off!  My heart is in my throat as I watch only to see him perform this amazing dive, he climbs out of the pool and races to check his 'action photo'. He is then joined by one of the younger boys, again, I insist they not do this, but away they go. These boys obviously grew up climbing, diving, swimming - I don't think they understood my fear, they simply wanted to entertain. It was definitely the best part of my day and I will remember it forever.  
The Dive

The Children  During our many travels to Spanish-speaking countries we have noticed something about the children.  They are so 'well behaved'. We were once in the Caribbean during Easter festivities. Easter is a huge celebration in most of the Caribbean, you will see islanders heading to the beach front communities with picnic baskets, cerveza, agua, toys and children in tow. We were amazed at the crowds that filled the beach, it was literally lined with people. While walking the beach, we noticed that there was not one child screaming, whining or crying. They simply laughed and played together.  

A lot of children don't have much compared to Canadian and American standards, but what they lack in 'stuff' they make up for with family. We have noticed that regardless of whether you are travelling in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico or elsewhere, they are extremely proud of their families. Just stop and ask a Mexican gentleman if he has ninos and you will see a big smile and quickly learn the age and sexes of all his children. I'm not saying that we are not proud of our children or that family isn't important, it just seems different there. Perhaps it is because they don't have fancy houses or cars that it seems to take on more importance. The children don't have iPhones or a lot of the other 'necessities', but maybe that's not such a bad thing. Is that why you don't see them screaming or whining for 'things'. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt.

Atlin, B.C.
St. Augustine, Florida
Siesta Key, Florida
San Miguel, Mexico
Take the time to watch, talk, play, laugh and enjoy the children, no matter where you are. Don't give them stuff, give them time - and also give yourself permission to sometimes act like a kid again, you're never too old.

                                                                        Wry Reporting .......

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