The Shoe-shine boys of Dajabon
Leaving the bus I was met with the furnace like midday heat of Dajabon. Suddenly my case was heavy and steps were slow as I made my way out of the marshalling yard past the money dealers and motorcycle taxis offering lifts to Haiti. I was not sure if my memory of this part of the city was clear in my brain but I didn’t give any sign of being unsure or even lost and walked on purposefully. After a few directional errors I found my way past the basket ball yard through the garage and found the amenable Cafe Beller with a group of shoeshine boys following. I so wanted to have my shoes done but just could not work out what was an appropriate charge and only held big currency. 20 US$ seemed a bit over the top.
I met one of the boys on my return journey and tried to get from him what a reasonable charge would be. He said anything, so I made my own stab at it, gave him 50pesos (equal to 1$) and hoped that would help and encourage him. I have never had my shoes done before and felt there was something mildly humiliating about it until I heard how Romulo Quicano Suane (Return to Ayacucho) would use the shoe shine boys whenever he could. As a boy growing up in Ayacucho, he was one of them.
At the cafe I found a seat at a table under a fan and ordered a lemon drink,perfectly chilled though a bit on the sharp side. It was such a great feeling to get here for my rendezvous with the rest of the team. I could relax and simply enjoy the ambience and take in my surroundings. When they all arrived a half hour later, it was a joyous reunion. This was going to be good.