Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Around eleven the middle school marching band is practicing, snares clattering rhythm and little feet stepping in time. Horns joining in, and roosters sounding off like some sort of strange whistle from the band leader.

Children, dressed in uniforms of blue and white, spill out of the schools with their books, holding hands and chattering and some of them carrying large, silver xylophones, chimes muffling the breeze passing through palm fronds.

Storekeepers tidy up and slide the metal doors down, closed for a few hours, then hurry home to help prepare sopa, jugo, arroz, y pollo o pescado. Smells stream from open windows and doors, dogs on the front porches, patient.

Taxi trucks park and drivers slip into restaurants, order almuerzo plates for two-fifty and doze in the dark corners of the room. others divide attention between TV news and cell phone chats.

By twelve, the band has been carried off into the distance, dismantled, and fled. The streets are silent, except for a single moto, speeding by on the paved cement. A lone green towel flaps urgently on a clothesline, a faded brown stain in the center, perfectly oval, like the shell of an egg.

The sky is seamlessly grey, reflecting the cinderblock walls of unpainted houses, and the dry, twiggy branches of trees on the distant hills. The lively robin’s egg blue and terra cotta orange houses are like colored glass sticking out of the sand.

In the street below, a young man scrapes wet cement mix to patch the sidewalk with a shovel. Back to work, having only eaten a sandwich and yogurt brought in his bag, sitting next to his bike on the curb.