Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Best Ice Cream In The World

These last few days, I've been reminiscing about my trip to South America last March. This is the one story that will never leave me. I may forget the dried llama fetuses and chewing coca leaves to scare off my headache, but I will never forget this ice cream.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our last day, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia is Palm Sunday. We are waiting in the grand courtyard in front of a Catholic Church with palms laid on the front of it. It's 10am and our plane leaves at 11pm. We have an entire day to sit in the courtyard and people watch.



M
y aunt Kathy wants an ice cream. Just like she does every day. I walk with her through the palm trees in the park where hundreds of people gather to spend Palm Sunday afternoon. It is 70 degrees and sunny and a breeze makes it a perfect day.

We hear music in the corner building on our way to the ice cream shop. Obviously, a child's party is going on. Balloons are everywhere. Arches of balloons. A live band. Food and drink.

We walk
past the noise coming from the open windows beneath gorgeous architecture. On the sidewalk sits a beggar woman on a blanket. A little girl accompanies her playing shoeless in a blue velvet dress that is almost too small. It's a special day and she has dressed her in her best. She holds out her hand, and I place my coins inside the brown wrinkling of her hand.
I wait on my Aunt Kathy 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 from the party that she's not invited to 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. I feel myself staring.


Aunt Kathy asks me again if I'd like some ice cream. I'm not hungry. I don't want any ice cream. I can't believe all of these people are oblivious to this little girl.

I say, "Yes, I do. A child's portion."


The guys behind the counter are laughing and having a great time. Asking 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 and ask me again. Surely I want some thing mixed in!

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 balloons.
I squat beside her and peck 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.


That was the best ice cream that I've ever had.

24 comments:

Merrily Down the Stream said...

Oh, that is os beautiful. Bless your heart. Really.
xoox

Dana said...

I bawled the first time I read this, and a year later? Same response.

THIS is what I meant yesterday when I said it wasn't about where I went, but whom I met!

SkylersDad said...

This is such a good story, good for you and your kind heart.

Jude said...

Human Kindness, we all have it in us but not everyone shares it with others. Kudos to you.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

I knew you were part angel.

Diane said...

i love this story and how you told it. I felt like I was there with you that day.

small town dyke said...

just beautiful, you touched my heart.

smiles4u said...

Now that's beautiful! You do have such a wonderful heart. What a memory...it brought tears to my eye's. I am sure you will never forget this moment.

Bigwade said...

wow

nothing more needs said

Lynette said...

Your right. My feelings. We are here for one reason and one reason only. To help each other in big and small ways. You help with your blog giving humor, wisdom, acceptance and especially honesty.

Thanks

Loz said...

Wonderful!

Ghost Writer said...

I read that last year and remember being so moved. But having gotten to know you personally a bit, it had a bigger impact on me tonight. I cried. It's a privlidge to be friends with your loving heart. Thank you.

Lu' said...

You are a sweet heart and you have a sweet heart :)

Fu Manchu Dad said...

I remember reading this last year also and I'm pretty sure I said something to the effect that you were an angel. If I didn't, then I should have. You are a beautiful, beautiful soul, wrapped up in a beautiful package. You've demonstrated that on many occasions. So, whatever I said last year, ditto x 2. You are an angel.
FMD

Awake In Rochester said...

Ohhh, your so sweet you put tears in my eyes!

Matt-Man said...

That my dear, is a beautiful thing. Nice. Cheers!!

~*Jobthingy*~ said...

you have a beautiful soul

that little girl will remember that for the rest of her life.

as will you of course.

but for other reasons

writeonbluej said...

No matter where I go, no matter who I meet, some of the greatest people I've ever know will be the homeless men and women in Washington, D.C.

This child AND her mother will never forget you.

Clowncar said...

Sweet story. I like the details you pick out (the blue velvet dress that is almost too small).

I find myself curious about the coca leaves, though. I won't ask about the llama fetus....

Bond said...

WOW....small little thing and I am sure that little girl and her mom will remember the beautiful woman the rest of their lives...

You made me tear up with this one

Jessica said...

So wonderful! I have tears in my eyes as well.

Gina said...

I am all choked up now. Interestingly enough, I talked to a student today who spent two years in Vanuatu with her husband, helping the natives with medical issues. People like you two are truly inspiring. Even a little thing like ice cream makes me want to strive to be more selfless. Good for you.

Ashleigh said...

Beautiful!

I'd love the experience something like that.

nitebyrd said...

That is a beautiful story. I got teary eyed!