February 2, 2017...first pics posted in February, story finished in April!
One of the most unexpected and surprising moments of my stay at Chilefarms in Nogales, Chile.
February 2, 2017 The Berry Pickers
Churning away on my afternoon spin, I brake to watch two women, a mother and a daughter as it turns out, picking berries from the bushes on the roadside.
There are miles of blackberry bushes along this country road. Tall, thick, and thorny, they act as a fence. Since the outer portions are on public land, citizens are free to help themselves when the bushes bear fruit. Which is what is going on here. For the next couple of weeks, families from nearby towns will come to the roadside to harvest them. There's enough for everyone.
"Photo?" I ask, mimicking clicking the shutter on my camera.
The older woman seems embarrassed, puts her hands to her hair, points to her clothes to say that she is not dressed properly. Her daughter, unsure of what to make of this gringo, shyly turns away. I put my camera down.
"Where are you from?" they ask.
"Boston, Massachusetts, USA." Which steers us into talking about the weather, a universal starting point for conversations all over the world.
"Mucho calor," the mother says.
I mimic shivering. " Mi casa es frio!" They get the idea.
"Invierno," they say...winter.
Before long they're comfortable that I'm not a crackpot and am genuinely interested in what they're doing. The mother says the daughter has learned some English in school. Of course she's too embarrassed to try it out but a few minutes later, she can't resist giving it a whirl.
By the time we're done using a combination of my fractured Spanish, the daughter's fractured English, and a good helping of sign language, we know each other's names. The daughter, Lesley, points to my eyes, "Same as my father's," (and the same blue as her own). Her mother, Layla, smiles when i tell her that was the name of my grandmother (Leela).
Layla reaches into the clear plastic bucket she's tied around her neck to give me a handful of the small dark sweet berries. "Mermelada!"she says. Now I know what will become of this fruit.
A few more Q and As and I learn that Layla's husband is a construction man, "Numero uno," she says with pride. And they live in the Artificio, a neighborhood just outside La Calera, about a half hour away.
"Do you like music?" Lesley asks haltingly. I nod. "Do you know the music of Justin Bieber?" I nod. "He is the love of my life," she says in a teenage swoon, her eyes rolling toward heaven, her hands tenderly covering her heart. We're on a roll.
"Do you like Beyoncé?" I ask.
"Yes...and Katy Perry ... Ariana Grande, too!"
By now we are having as grand an old time as you can have when none of you speak the other's language very well.
I get ready to hit the road and raise my camera just in case. They smile beautifully. A lovely moment, a sweet "one world" story, and a testament to the small bridges that connect us.
I hop on my bike.
"Be careful of the cars!" she says with a big wave.
Just like a mother.
Photos by Paul A.Tamburello, Jr.