Angelica, Segundo barrio, El Paso – Oct. 18, 2010
EL PASO –Angelica Alvarez. A true believer. A believer in her faith. A believer in a better day. A believer in joy.
I noticed her as she worked her way down the street, engaging every person that she encountered, leaving each person she talked with a smile on their face, enthusiastically waving goodbye to her, they no longer strangers.
I followed her.
Finally she turned and engaged me.
“Want to take a picture of me,” she smiled and began posing, blowing on her flowers on a stick.
I go to work.Â Snapping. Talking. Asking questions. My camera, as always, an open “Dance Card.”
Where are you heading, I inquire?
“First to Juarez and, eventually,” she pauses, “to heaven.”
We both laugh. Friendly. I believe her.
“Juarez isn’t much heaven these days,” I reply, thinking my answer was a gateway to communication, showing her I knew the scene in in J town, I knew what was going on, I’m hip.
She smiled. Kind but, like a profesora who has set you up for a punchline.
“Sure it is. We’re still alive. We’re getting through. There’s just a little bit of hell that’s come our way. For now…”
We talked. She waved her flowers at passerby. I asked if I could send her her pictures. She wrote her address, folded it neatly, pressed it into my hand.Â She said she had to go, get back to Juarez before it got to be too late.
I walked with her to El Paso Street. She said hello to everybody. She took a left and headed the long block to the bridge. I waved goodbye.
I walked away. About half a block later I looked down at the piece of paper she had given me with the address of where to send her photo. To my surprise, it had an El Paso address. She, like so many of us now, here, on the border, still love Juarez, but, if you can, one hedges their bet.Â The mail is a lot more reliable on the U.S. side. So is daily living.
A “little bit of hell,” has come to Juarez -it isn’t a little at all, it’s a lot- but Angelica believes it’ll end in heaven.
We all hope it does.