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There for Each Other


I have been in Cusco, Perù, for two weeks now.

The other day i went to see some ruins about an hour drive from here, called Tipon.

Beautifully terraces structures, with a complex systems of water canals for irrigation and ceremonies.

I leave in the afternoon, kind of late. Usually the weather gets worse here in the afternoon during this time of the year, and it is not uncommon to get thunderstorms.

As a matter of fact when I get off the bus, it starts pouring.

I put on more clothes and I take shelter under the roof of a church.

Churches can be useful sometimes!

I sit down on some steps to wait out the rain.

After about ten minutes i see this local kid of about 10-12 years of age come to me.

Dressed pretty much in rags, with flip flops and very muddy feet and also limping pretty bad.

A lot of people around here ask for money, so I am expecting that, but instead he just offers me some local fruits he has in his hands. I thank him, and I tell him to sit down with me.

So we start talking and I ask him all sorts of questions and so he does. I also see he is holding and massaging his wrist, which is in a kind of awkward position. I ask him what happened to him.

He says he was run over by a car when he was little.

This explains the limping as well. I ask him if he is getting any medical attention. Yes, I am going to rehab, he says. This calms my nursing complex, but I still wonder if in the west we could do better.

And so we are: two total strangers, thirty years apart, waiting out the rain, sitting under the roof of a Peruvian church.

We just alternate moments of talking, to others just enjoying each other presence watching the rain.

I feel he is just happy to sit there. So am I.

I am little surprised, though. It took me forty four years of life, to recognise the beauty of just “being”, but he seems to be already accustomed to it.

Still pouring hard.

My “having fun side” pops up. Do you know how to play scissors, rock and paper, I ask?

He does not. I try to explain how to play but to no avail.

So I ask him if he likes animals. And he says sure!

I tell him I have lots of pictures of animals from my trips here in my camera.

Do you want to see them?

He says, sure.

I pull my camera out and I let him choose which one to see. This one, that one…and so we go on and on, all sorts of different animals: sloths, monkeys, parrots, vultures, snakes, frogs.

I tell him everything I know about each species, he listen very attentively.

My most satisfying PhD biology lesson! Ever!

For the next half an hour we go on like this, until the rain stops.

Just in time, I have no more pictures to show.

Part of me feels like doing something more for him,

but I do not want to offend him offering money.

So I use a little trick.

In Perù, if you want to get a picture with locals or one of their lamas, alpacas, etc…

you have to give a “propina”, a tip.

So I ask him if we can take a picture together. He says yes.

Which, of course, he wants to see it right away…

After, half jokingly, I ask him how much he charges for the picture together.

He is surprised, but he jumps right in, and says: 10 soles (3$)!

what?? Steep I say! Good entrepreneur!

(the one-hour bus ride there costed me 2 soles).

So he says: ok 5!

To his surprise, I give him the ten he asked for.

Oh my God, the look in his eyes!

What are you gonna do with it, I ask?

He lists all sorts of sweets! I say good!

Best way to spend money!

It is too late for the ruins now, they are closed. So I ask him if he wants to go for a walk in the village instead. He says yes, and we walk for about ten minutes.

I follow him, until we go by his place where he wants to leave his “plata”, money.

He takes him quite a bit of time to get back out.

Then he takes me to the main road, where a taxi materialises.

He says that this guy can take me up to the ruins 5 km away and can talk his friends at the entrance to let me in, although the place is already closed for the day.

I ask him if he wants to go too, but he says no and just waves me goodbye,

as we look at each other for the last time.

In the end I got to enter the ruins and spend there half an hour all by myself,

way better than with the usual touristic crowds.

I do not know if he called me that cab and organised that for me, but this is what I like to think.

Being there for each other, even if for just some short moments,

it is all that matters.

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