The down town center is so very busy and we spent many days walking the streets talking to crowds and individuals and caring for the many homeless that sit in the corners. Everything is pretty expensive here like the taxis, so that means a lot of walking. One day I added it up and I had walked over 8 miles just going down town, running errors and getting groceries(at least I’ll stay in shape right?) The economy here is on the verge of collapse so there is a lot of poverty and even the middle class find themselves struggling. Up and down most any given street you will see mattresses with sleeping bodies, men and women looking through trash cans, fabric or cardboards hung around to attempt a shelter and very poor people barely hanging on to life. One man I talked to told me that when the night comes he will just weep thinking about all that he has lost and what has become of him. He said as a young man his parents threw him out and he couldn’t find a job, he has a bench in a city park that he calls home. He told me he used to have a beautiful dog that he really loved and it was always just him and the dog, then one day the dog ran away and now he was alone. A tear rolled down his cheek as he said, “ I know it’s just a dog, but he was all I had…”.
One lady I got to know had to be almost 80. She was very clean, jolly and grandmotherly but sat on the street with a cardboard sign begging. The sign explained how one day the power in her house just went off and then a few days later someone told her she had to leave. Her son stopped paying the rent and she had to move out to the street. The women explained to me that when she was younger she would always walk this same street and give clothes to the needy, and now she was in need and no one came by to help her. Another man that I became good friends with was named Fernando. We was 70 something and had been in a horrible accident caused by a drunk driver. He lost his leg, suffered paralysis to his left side and lost much of his vision and hearing. He migrated to Argentina from Italy and used to work as a renown chef and baker but since loosing his leg he cannot work and now calls out to the passerby’s to help him. He has a loud booming voice, a big smile and calls me his angel. I gave him a T-shirt and he wore it every day since, (now there will always be a Fighting Irish fan on the other side of the world:)Go Irish!).