My feet white with the dust of the day and my arms darker then the day before due to the caribe sun, I walk through the empty baseball field on my way home from another days work with the boys of Casa ENED. Bachatas with lyrics of broken hearts fill the air and the motos zip past at break neck speeds. With the help of the street lights, I find a mango tree and pick up a ripe fruit and bite into it. I do not stop for long as I want to get home before the electricity goes out. Even though I feel at home in the barrio, I find myself yearning for a campo life. A slower pace, a little more quiet.
“Sometimes I wish I lived in a campo, by a river. Where life is more tranquillo.” I state to my friend, who is walking me home. At that moment, I hear the silent click and the streets go dark. Only the moon and the stars illuminate the road home. Then I hear the silent click of the generators turning on, powering the music blaring out of darkened stores and houses. I am not sure if there is actually a click that occurs when the electricity goes out, but I swear I can hear one.
“And this is what pisses me off about here. Siempre se va la luz (the light always goes out). Every night, at the same time, se va la luz.” He yells to the sky, as if something up there is responsible for the blackouts. Something out there that can provide an answer. “There is nothing in this barrio but dirt, heat and noise. It never rains. There is trash everywhere. Everyday, the same thing. It’s ridiculous. I am going to move to the campo, where there is at least some peace.”
Another moto zips by, pops a wheely and nearly crashes into an oncoming car. Women and men sit in plastic chairs drinking ice cold beer out of plastic cups. Teenagers dance in the street. I can smell fried chicken and plantains cooking in the zinc shakes that line the street.
“Ya, that sucks. But at least we have mangos. Come un chin (take a bite).”
“I am fine, Thank you. Campos have mangos, Sara. Didn’t you know that?”
I laugh. “Ya, I know. Just looking for something.”
As I near my house, I can hear my favorite bachata playing from the corner store in front of my apartment. “And it doesn’t matter to me if you are fat or skinny, because I love you how you are. I am not perfect either. Love is blind.” I cannot resist dancing as I step off the curb into the dusty street. One, two three, four; One, two three four. As I take my graceful steps, I trip over a rock and stumble, nearly falling flat on my face.
My friend laughs at me as he catches me. “Oh Sarita. You cure me.”
“I am glad that my clumsiness can cure you. Maybe I should fall more often and I could save the world.” I say sarcastically as I steady myself.
We part ways and I walk up the steps to my dark apartment. As I wash the white dust off my feet, I think tell myself, this may not be campo life, but it’s barrio life. And I am now a barrio girl. Bachatas, frito and curbs to stumble off of. And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.