The Universal Language

The woman in this photo sits on the street in San Miguel and begs. There are not many beggars in San Miguel, and most of them are elderly. It always touches my heart to see them. While I would like to “fix it”, I know that I can’t. I know that I can’t put pesos in every outstretched hand, just as I can’t buy a newspaper from every street vendor in Nashville. Fred had given this woman a bit of change. I loved her face. I hesitated to ask if I could take her picture. I gave her 15 pesos. But, when I pressed the shutter, the smile was real, as was my smile to her. We had a little exchange of energy, and it was a good moment.
When I walk down the street here in San Miguel I like to interact with people. I don’t mean to generalize, but I have come to sense that most of the local people are rather shy. I usually have to initiate any exchange. It would be easy to decide that they would rather I just left them alone. But, what I have found is that they are waiting for me to make the first move. If I say “buenos dias” and smile, I get a warm response. The people here seem to appreciate my faltering attempts at speaking their language. I think a smile is the universal way for people to communicate. Some days I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Most days I feel like I have somehow come home.

One thought on “The Universal Language

  1. Beautiful words Margaret. I agree wholeheartedly. Even when people in NYC look at me like I’m a crazy person, most of the time I get a smile back in return. Always puts a spring in my step.

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