Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pot Sellers of El Valle

A moment ago I was at my computer working, and Laura was trying to put Salma to sleep. It's Saturday, so Rosa, Ani and Listo are off.

I thought I heard someone call out, "Buenas!" I tilted my head, listening. A moment later there was a much louder call, "Buenas!" I hurried to the front door, not wanting any noises to disturb Salma, but I wasn't fast enough. Just before I got to the front door there was a veritable shriek:


Two women with clay pots piled on their heads greeted me. "Sorry, I wasn't sure anyone was home," one said.

Vendors often come to the house on the weekends. They are villagers from the impoverished hamlets around El Valle de Anton. They walk into town, often from great distances, hoping to make a few dollars selling their wares, which could be crafts, vegetables, fruits, or flowers.

"Please, can't you help us out?" the smaller of the two women asked. "These pots are very heavy. Only three dollars each." They set the pots on the ground and removed the small turbans that they wore on their crowns to cushion the weight.

I didn't feel that we needed any pots, but I knew that these woman most likely have families, and are certainly very poor. I could find a place for a few potted plants.

I examined the pots and selected two of roughly equal size. They had a nice orange gloss. At this the shorter woman protested.

"But those are both her pots! Can't you buy some of my pots too?"

I didn't want four pots. But the short woman's pots were smaller than the other woman's pots, and I wanted a matching pair. I puzzled over this a moment, then took the largest of the squat lady's pots and the smallest of the hefty woman's pots. I gave them three dollars each.

The women thanked me, re-wrapped their turbans and hefted their pots to their heads. I returned to my office, then had a thought. Snatching up my camera I ran outside.

"SeƱoras!" I called, and chased after them, catching them at the front gate. "Can I take your picture?"

"But I'm ugly" the taller woman said. Nevertheless they both set their pots down and faced the camera.

"Please," I said. "Could you place the pots on your heads for the picture?"

They graciously posed for the photo above, then continued on their way.

Here are the two pots I bought:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lovely article, Wael. You did a beautiful thing. It is heartbreaking to see people striving to make a few dollars to get by.

I have often pondered what ways there might be of helping local people there.