They made us laugh.
In November 2005, my family spent a week in Peru. We met many children in the city of Cusco and the nearby mountain villages. It's a little sad that most of the children we met were trying to make money. But the little girls we met selling finger puppets one day, didn't make us sad at all.
So Many Children
These children in their traditional dress were walking down from the top of a mountain village. They weren't selling anything, but they seemed excited (after their serious photo) when I handed out American ball point pens.
Here are some young boys selling mint and a little girl selling some woven art.
I didn't get a photo of the boy who got frustrated when my husband wouldn't buy postcards. "Mister, why you not be my friend.? And there's not picture of the young man who frowned when I said "No thanks." to his postcards. I offered him a pen, but the boy studied it a moment, then whined, "Ay Lady, this pen is good for nothing." I laughed and snatched the pen back. Only then did he admit he actually wanted the pen.
Posing with a Few Teens
We did encounter a few enthusiastic teens here and there... who asked to pose in photos with my son and daughter. Blond hair is exciting in Peru.
The Puppet Girls
But our favorite encounter was with the girls selling puppets. How could we keep on walking when these smiling faces approached us in the Main Plaza, one night in Cusco?
For a moment we were concerned. These children are out late! Where are their parents? But then they made us smile. They made the little animals dance on their fingers. They proudly sang a song in English about the American presidents. Where did they learn such confidence and salesmanship! I've never met children who seemed so in control.
My Kids made them laugh.
We were charmed by these girls and their little animals. Then my kids, Heidi and Scott tried to remember a silly song they'd learned in Spanish class years ago. They performed their song for the girls and the girls giggled.
It was a win-win situation. They sold us numerous little animals and we had a wonderful memory of these delightful Peruvians.
Everyone walked away smiling.
Thanks, Cusco Kids!
I realize we may have done the wrong thing buying from you. Some say we shouldn't encourage the practice of using children to promote sales. I'm trying not to think about that issue right now. I'm just trying to picture what you girls might be up to now. You made us laugh 7 years ago, but it makes me sad right now to realize there's slim chance you are heading off to college soon. With your determination and confidence, I can only imagine what you would do with a college education!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers