Land of Contrasts

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I’ve been busy these last few days – sorry I haven’t blogged more. There is one internet cafe on the island, and it’s only open in the afternoons, and we’re often busy doing things… and it’s hard to decide whether to blog what I’ve been up to or go do more things! Yesterday, we went on the dump tour, where we take food out to the people who work-live at the dump. They scrounge for anything valuable that can be sold, mostly raw materials like metals. The men work at the dump and their families live below it. Quite poor housing, but not the absolute worst I’ve seen. It’s shocking how many people live in such poor conditions. It’s a good thing they don’t have winter and can spend a lot of time outside. Most people, the middle class live in cement houses that are 500 square feet. Many others 100. Very small. Kitchens are often outside, with a dirt floor, and makeshift counters. But even so, the women are quite preoccupied with how they look… and the men seem quite concerned with it too. I get a lot of looks and smiles because I am blonde. I really stick out in a crowd (not to mention pale-skinned). I had the lightest hair at the spanish church service! Anyways, I am enjoying everything, even the visit to Casa Damasco today. This is where the people who have no where else to go go. There are mentally disabled people there, and physically disabled. Their families don’t want to take care of them, or they have no family, so they are stuck. There’s a lady there who was brought there by the police because she couldn’t stay at the hospital who has a broken back. She was in a lot of pain last week, but not bad this week, but she is dying. It was pretty clear to me. I cried a little, and just felt that someone should feel for her… but there are 2 people, Juan and Chinita (I think) who live there! They are there almost 24-7 taking care of these people, changing their diapers, doing laundry, cooking… how amazing. So, if this lady dies, she won’t die on the streets or without any dignity. They are going to try to take her to the doctor and get her into hospice care (for the dying) because she is very dehydrated. Hopefully they can do that, but if not, she will die in peace (I think). Very sobering! There were other people there who were lively though, and I played a game of dominos with one!

What else can I say – this place is one of contrasts. “The Golden Zone” where the tourists are, glitsy, shmancy, fake. The garbage dump where people live off what the tourists throw away (because the locals don’t throw away much)… the chain stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and the market where you can buy whole pigs’ heads!! Dollar stores (essentially) and road-side food stands. The beautiful beaches, with local people walking up and down all day peddling their wares. Prices that are unbelievably low, and people who still can’t afford to feed their children. Luckily, Mary’s church helps the people’s needs long before they ever talk about Jesus or try “convert” them.

Anyways, that’s all the time I have… take care everybody!

Golden Zone Street Golden Zone Street

Typical Street Street on Stone Island

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