This morning as I returned from the west side of town, having purchased a can of talco for the very raw bottom of a baby with severe diarrhea, I passed the small shop of Gregorio Alarcón Federico who hailed me to share with me a “pan de huevo” he had just purchased. As ever, a chair was at once brought for me, and although I had many “enfermos” awaiting me, I found myself sitting and chatting with the owner of the shop and several of the vagrant young men who always appear wherever a conversation starts. Gregorio Alarcón, the rotund and aging shopkeeper, prides himself on his English, which is negligible. He taught himself from a book many nears ago and still remembers a miscellaneous collection of unrelated words. As we talked I noticed a dark, healthy girl of perhaps 18 years in the shadows behind the counter. Someone asked how to say “Ramona” in English and so it was I learned the name of Gregorio’s grand-daughter. Federico grinned and said that Ramona had offered to give me lessons in Spanish if I would give her lessons in English. Then he gave me a lascivious wink. I said I would be glad to teach her some English, and was always eager to improve my Spanish.
After a few more minutes “platicando” I took my leave and walked on down the wet stony street toward the casa of José Vidaca. (As I walked, I heard someone behind me saying, “Mira, el tiene parálisis en sus pies también.”) About half an hour later a small boy appeared at the veranda of the casa of José Vidaca bearing a snowy white rooster upside-down, by the legs. He handed it to me, saying, “Es de Ramona” And so our friendship has begun.