This weekend I spent a fair bit of time at Jinette's (my host's) grandmother's house. She lives in a part of town that Jinette introduced to me by saying:
"Rich people don't live here."
Litotes, of course. Not that this is dire, desperate poverty - houses are small, but not too much so, the road is paved and sidewalked, there is or seems to be a TV in every home, and there is an Internet center that people can afford. It's a poor place but not unlike poor neighborhoods in the United States (and the same people live there, after all).
Aside from the matriarch herself, there are always people about. I've only been there with Jinette's mother, but she seems to spend several hours a day there. Her brothers also come, and their children, occasionally wives, and some people I think are just neighbors. The TV was on continuously, mostly but not only displaying a baseball game. I spent a fair bit of time sitting in the front-porch rocking-chairs, listening to the conversations and almost dozing. I also talked a bit to some of the children.
Mostly I talked to Leidy.
Leidy is not related. She's the girl who takes care of la vieja, the old woman. I assume she's paid, and I know she lives there. She goes to school: again my assumption is that this is a cheap private school rather than a public one, but I don't know. According to Jinette, this is a way for one (better-off) family to help another.
Leidyis 13, and one of the brightest and nicest children I've met. I've been teaching her some phrases in English, because she started asking me, and she learns them quite fast, and pronounces them well given that English has sounds in it which Spanish is incapable of. She's almost driving me crazy with her eagerness to learn and soak things up.
It makes me quite sad. I want to do something for Leidy who's so much like me but born in a bad situation, but I don't know what.