Perhaps no love is strong enough to get through the whole life. But it seems that we do not have anything else which could withstand life, but love. Wieslaw Myśliwski
The last few days I spent in the backyard of Vladimir Vallega’s property – the man who pulled me out of a very bad mood, or, literally, out of a roadside ditch, where a few days earlier I was lying with a fever, and a piercing pain of my muscles and kidneys.
I met Vladimir next to his restaurant called Portena. When I asked him if he didn’t know where the nearest clinic was, he took off his red apron, closed just a minute earlier opened premises and took me to the doctor. The visit, along with medicines, cost the equivalent of one hundred dollars. It turned out that I came at the very last moment, anyway, that’s what the doctor said. I got inflammation of the urinary tract, but now, after a few days of resting, generally everything is quite all right.
After a visit, we went back to the restaurant. I ate three pupusas (pancakes with cheese and meat), which almost burst my stomach. Firstly, Vladimir suggested that I should go to the nearest hotel, but when he realised what my budget for the trip was – he changed his mind, and suggested the roof of the restaurant. The roof was a really great place, but the idea of converting it into a cosy apartment did not please the police, so the next day I moved to the Vladimir’s house, or, actually, the backyard of his property.
Apart from the restaurant Portena, Vladimir leads a second, similar place – on the ground floor of his house. This second restaurant is a typical comedor, where, for very little money (in Salvador, the currency is American dollar) you can eat decent breakfast or substantial lunch. The comedor is a family business. Vladimir’s wife works here, along with their children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.
Ali and Junior, Vladimir’s children, do not go to school. They learn at home, and have private tutors. At the end of the year they take one, all-year exam at school. Textbooks for learning are printed in Honduras, where “home” way to educate children is more common than it is in Salvador. Junior is fourteen years old, and speaks fluent English with a very good accent.
The members of the family live together in a big house, which stands in the middle of the market area. At the very early morning, the market starts to be full of the hustle and bustle, which doesn’t fade until late afternoon. It also hosts the bus station and it is a place where one may purchase various types of livestock. People sit there on the streets, occupy every bit of any availalbe space, every piece of a valuable shade.
There are plenty of people, but shaded seats maybe a dozen. Who is lucky enough, and owns such a precious spot, does not move an inch from it, even when a careless bus driver runs over a basket filled with bananas and watermelons, or a wheelbarrow full of husked beans. Such clumsy actions cause huddle unheard of, which ends only with blasts of firecrackers shot by the police, meticulously guarding the market.
Those who didn’t succeed in getting a shady spot, apply different methods of getting their way. They don’t sit in one place, but move all the time; from gate to gate, from alley to alley, sniffing and looking at all imaginable places where they could find a potential client. From a wide range of products available, analgesics dominate (Ladies and gentlemen! For one, only one dollar, wonderful pills for everything! Diarrhea, headache, teeth, sinuses, muscles, arthritis, menstrual cramps, rheumatism, for one dollar you may get rid of all your health problems!), but among other odds and ends, which are being sold, you may also find belts, shirts, Colgate toothpaste, watches, detergents, cosmetics, everything just for one dollar.
I’ve never seen anyone buying anything from these people, and yet, with some dull stubbornness, or maybe just a sheer desperation, each day they enter the same places, with the same genuine smile on their faces and the same sort of confidence, praising crappy products as if they hadn’t been at all doing that for weeks or months, and perhaps years, but it was their first, new day at work, when one is still able to muster (even if fake) admirable enthusiasm.
Vladimir wants me to stay longer, but I have a queer feeling that I am resting too long, I do not want to abuse the hospitality, and, after all, I can not sit still at the table, lingering under the Canadian flag, looking blankly at moving out, kaleidoscopic images .
One should not detonate a bomb in someone’s heart by the ocean, writes a friend of mine. Probably she was right, or maybe not, I do not know. Maybe I deserved what had happened, maybe whatever I would have done, and no matter how much I would have tried – it was inevitable, anyway. I can not give immortality to anyone or anything. Mortal I am, like a white mouse, which is an object of experience of time.
I’m going towards the border, the ride did not do me well, so I decided to spend the night in the hostel. I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I woke up. I was lying on the ground in a stuffy, dark room that was slowly filling up with lights and sounds. There were some people around me but I could not recognize who they were, and all I could see were a few dark silhouettes. They were talking something to me, in a whisper, which slowly thickened and eventually turned into a light buzz. I stood up and raised my head. Millions of butterflies were flying through a big hole in the roof. There were so many of them that I could nearly hear the flutter of their wings.
I wanted to lift, soar into the air, fly away with them, but I could not raise, I could not move. I wanted to scream, but the voice faded in my throat. Someone shouted: Come on, get up, go on, finish your trip!, someone else: Pull yourself together! and yet: Start enjoying life, get up, fly! But maybe nobody screamed, and it was only me, dreaming a bad dream, because life is just a dream, dreaming by a shade, so maybe it was just my own ego crying, bouncing off from the vivid figures that were deepening the circle, approaching me inexorably, and soon I was about to be covered by their more and more shining and penetrating light …
Thanks for all of you, for your kind words. There’s nothing wrong going on. Everything what is happening, is happening just in my head, so, in fact, actually it does not exist. There is no cosmic solitude, no headaches, no sorrow and no bad thoughts. It will all pass, the wings will grow back, I just need a little rest.
I’m not going back, I will go on. Devoided of any hope and illusions, I do not have to hurry anywhere now. I need some space and air. That’s all I need, a little bit of space and some fresh air. After all, I am a wandering bird. And what she loved in me, was a bird. Txori nuen maite.