Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Like A Rock Star

I finally understand the meaning of exhausted. Keeping up with three 70 year olds for 12 days was enough for me.

I've been to Bolivia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and back to Bolivia. I am frazzled. I feel like the world is spinning at a different speed and angle than I am. My brain may never recover from the lack of oxygen that I experienced in La Paz, Bolivia at around 13,000 feet above sea level. Apparently, I'm a sea level kind of gal, because I could not think without my requisite dosage of O. And my brain still ain't right.

I've rafted across Lake Titicaca in a reed boat and been doused by buckets of rain at magical Machu Picchu. I've given beggars my change too many times to count...but one little girl haunts me.

On our last day, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, we were waiting in the grand courtyard in front of a Catholic Church with palms laid on the front of it. It was 10am and our plane was leaving at 11pm. We decided to hang out and people watch.

My aunt K wanted an ice cream. Just like she did every day. I accompanied her through the palm trees in the park where hundreds of people gathered to spend Palm Sunday afternoon. It was 70 degrees and sunny and a breeze made it the perfect day.

We heard music in the corner building as we walked to the ice cream shop. Obviously, a child's party was going on. Balloons were everywhere. Arches of balloons. A live band. Food and drink. We walked past the noise coming from open windows of gorgeous architecture with bars on the windows.

On the sidewalk sat a beggar woman on a blanket. A little girl accompanied her and played shoeless beside her in a blue velvet dress that was almost too small. But it's a special day and she dressed her as best she could. She held out her hand, and I placed my coins inside the brown wrinkling of her hand.

I wait on my Aunt K amidst dozens of people getting ice cream on the warm day. People shuffle around me and no one notices her. She has two balloon remnants and is filling them from a drain tube coming down the side of the dirty wall. Normally it would drain onto the ground, but she's thirsty. She fills the balloon and drinks.

Aunt K asks me again after I've told her that I don't want any ice cream. I'm not hungry. Nor am I wanting. I say, "Yes, I do. A child's portion."

The guys behind the counter are laughing and having a great time. Trying to ask me in broken English what I want mixed into my ice cream. My throat closes and tears well up in my eyes. "It doesn't matter." They laugh, thinking that I'm chunky and I'll eat anything. They ask me again. Surely I want some thing mixed in. It comes with it. Strawberries? Chocolate syrup? Oreos?

"Si, oreos. por favor."

He hands me a huge portion of ice cream with a middle layer of oreos with a tiny spoon and napkin.

She's still filling her balloon.

I squat beside her and peck her on her velvet covered shoulder. Her eyes light up. She takes the ice cream and sits on the blanket. Her mother looks at me, smiles, touches her brown hand to her heart and points at me.

I ask for another spoon for her. I had forgotten her.

It was by far the best ice cream that I've ever had.

29 comments:

Dana said...

Sure ... your first day back and you make me cry!

I'm glad you had a great trip, I'm thrilled that you are home safe, and I wish there were more people in the world like you!

i am the diva said...

welcome back!
your story was so touching. thanks for sharing that special moment with us.

Biscuit said...

Oh for crying out loud, I'm all "first day" sensitive and emotional, and you made me cry!

:) It's a lovely story, and you're a lovely person, Lynn.

I hope you had a wonderful time, and got lots of pictures!

Jay said...

Welcome back!

Can't wait to hear all about the trip and see some pics!

Jen said...

Random acts of kindness rock! I have to say, you are kind, compassionate and generous beyond words. These are virtues many individuals seem to think they possess, but you actually live them. And you've asked for nothing in return. That is pretty fantastic.

Welcome home.

Raven said...

That is so cool...the things you did and the random acts of kindness.
Welcome Back!! You were missed!

Jeff B said...

If you did nothing else on your trip, that was worth it.

Great story to share with us. Welcome back.

Blissfully Wed said...

Posts like this are what I love so much about blogs. Thanks for sharing.

On a sidenote, I used to work with three interns from Peru. Aren't Peruvian girls so beautiful?

-Across The Dam

Fu Manchu Dad said...

The simplest kindnesses are the most profound. That little girl will most certainly not forget you either. Glad you're back, can't wait to hear more stories. Due to some new security settings here in the network, I won't be able to see any of the amazing photos, but I will enjoy having you back. Rock on travelin' sister!!

FMD

doggybloggy said...

more more tell us more...

Em said...

How sweet. . .

That was the best ice cream I've ever had too!

Tall Man Molly said...

That was beautiful.....you are a good soul.

Leighann said...

Welcome back sweetheart.

Seraphine said...

Aww, what a kind story. A kindness here and there is good for the soul, and wonderful for that little girl.
I'm glad you had a good time. Lack of oxygen, or no, and no matter how tired you are, travel always refreshes the soul.

The Mama Bear said...

You went and made me cry too.
What a touching story and you are a precious soul for what you did.

Happy you had a good time, survived, and are home again.

captain corky said...

Welcome home! Did you miss me? Sorry, with all the crying in here I just wanted to make people laugh, even though it was a good cry. For all of us. ;)

KellyKline said...

Yep, crying here.

But it's sweet.

Thanks for the reminder of how very fortunate we all are.

Now I'm gonna go hug my babies.

Spiky Zora Jones said...

you have made me cry...thank you.

g-man said...

Welcome home, breathe deep. :)

Touching story, you are a sweet woman.

Looking forward to hearing more stories and seeing pictures.

Mike said...

Welcome back!

Awesome, you've done your good deed for the week.

Also, if you had plain O, you'd die.

Sorry, that's the chemist in me talking.

Fortune Cookies said...

welcome back!
I can't wait to see photos! thanks for sharing such a touching story, random acts of kindness always warm a heart.

Seamus said...

Welcome home! Sounds like a wonderful adventure (despite your oxygen deprivation) and the gift of the ice cream tale was touching! :)

buffalodickdy said...

Welcome back, world traveler! Nice what you did for the kid- your reward was greater than her treat..

buffalodickdy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samantha Alice said...

Darnitall, Tall Man said EXACTLY what was in my head, and now I can't come up with something pithy and original.

You took my breath away.

Cap'n Ergo Jinglebollocks said...

:)

tt said...

Such a moving story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Can't you just imagine...years from now...she'll be retelling this story about a beautiful Americn tourist who gave her some icecream and a smile and how it made her day. Compassion at it's finest. Bravo!
Welcome back.

Marilyn said...

You made me cry too... I'm glad you're back.

Freakazojd said...

People like you make me really hope there's such a thing as karma. That was a beautiful thing you did.


(Also, in a completely different vein, you were ON Lake Titicaca?! Seriously?! Dude, that is the COOLEST.)