Friday, January 12, 2007

Dinner and Elections

A few nights ago I was downtown in the Plaza de Armas. A young woman in a wheel chair came up to me selling penny candy. She was dressed in dirty clothes and a small ten year old boy was pushing her. The boy spoke some English and we began talking about their life in the city. They both live in the Belem Ghetto about a mile away. They come downtown to sell candy to get enough money for food. The woman’s name is Daisy and the boy is Jesus. I think Daisy has polio in her legs but she can use her arms a little.

I asked them if they were hungry and they said they hadn’t eaten today. I said “let’s go across the street to Aires Burger”’s the nice tourist cafe with the Rock'n’ Roll theme. When we rolled Daisy up to the door the guards didn’t know what to say. The guards are supposed to keep the local street people out of the restaurant. I assured the guards that Daisy and Jesus were with me for dinner.

When we rolled Daisy up to a table everyone in the restaurant did a double take looking at her. I could tell she was excited to be eating there. We all had the roast chicken and rice special for $2 a plate. We had enough extra food that Jesus and Daisy took a large doggie bag back home to their families.

We decided to meet again for dinner the next night. I was waiting in the city park for Daisy and a couple of ugly prostitutes walk up to me and start talking in Spanish. I could tell what they wanted so I decided to some have fun with them by negotiating prices. I was trying to convince them that they should be paying me since I was a tall, green eyed American man. I kept stalling and said I was waiting for my girlfriend.

Just when they were demonstrating how good they were in bed, Daisy and Jesus roll up with her wheelchair. I got up and gave Daisy a kiss on her cheek and told the whores that Daisy was my girlfriend. The timing of the moment was perfect and the expression on the women’s faces was priceless as I pushed Daisy over to Aries Burger.

Daisy had put on clean clothes and eye make-up. She actually looked pretty good. She did not look out of place at a nice restaurant this time. During the next few nights I would have dinner again with Daisy.

Next Sunday is the big national election in Peru. There have been pep rallies every night in each town I have visited. Lots of marching bands and street dances until after midnight. The reason the elections are such a big deal in Peru is that everyone has to vote. If you do not vote, you don’t get your National Card updated (like a drivers license renewal). If you don’t have a current National Card you can’t use the bank, post office or any national service.

I had my photo taken with one of the candidates for state governor named “July”. I think she was a former stripper or something and is campaigning as kind of a joke. She was dressed in a tight tank top and short pants. She gave me a t-shirt with her picture on it. All the candidates give out lots of t-shirts. I think that is how most of the village people get new clothes. Everyone is always wearing political t-shirts. The candidates also pay home owners to paint their houses with campaign slogans. It is common for houses in good locations to be totally covered with political names


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