Monday, April 2, 2012

Commute, Mundo Artesanal, Another Funeral

 Worst part of most of my days is the commute. I hope I get things organized eventually so I am not transporting boxes of stuff or bulky items every day and so can use the subway and guaguas. The traffic jams for no reason drive me nuts, just stupidity like cars filling up a clogged intersection so when the light changes nobody can go anywhere. Cars turning left from the right lane through busy intersections. Traffic cops directing traffic in intersections that have broken stoplights but then the cop wanders off and leaves chaos behind him. The other day a cop was directing traffic in a busy intersection in a shopping district, pedestrians crossing everywhere, motorcycles slinking and weaving their way to the front of the lines and squirting out across the road. I was in the middle lane stopped with a guagua to my right and a car to my left, we were in the very front waiting for the cop to signal us to go. He stops the other lanes, waves us on and just as I accelerate a Haitian runs out from in front of the guagua and I hit him. He goes flying to the pavement. I stop, the Haitian gets up, I look at the cop and he is just watching the Haitian shaking his head, the Haitian apologizes and limps off, I continue. 
A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday morning on our way to the Plaza we saw a motorcyclist down in the northbound lane of Avenida Hermanas Mirabel. He had been hit by a SUV that had sped away. By the time we stopped passerbys had hoisted and dumped him into the back of a passing pick-up that had stopped and had dragged his bike to the side of the road. The pick-up took him to the hospital but he was dead in the road.

Mundo Artesanal (Craft World would be a likely translation) is top heavy in administration. David Morrillo is the owner along with his wife, Dany. His sister-in-law, Jocasta, is the manager, a son is the evening in charge person and there is an administrator who I think is a cousin, a cash register girl, an odd jobs guy, a housekeeper and two retail sales people. One of the retailers is Richard Bristol, an intense young Haitian who speaks Spanish, Creole, French and English and has a couple of his own paintings for sale in the store. When I am not around it is usually he who makes sales for me and when he does I give him 10% which is great for him since he only makes 2% commision in the other parts of the store and it is good for me because he is motivated.
          Much of Mundo is stuff on consignment a few of us rent spaces. Ruddy the German (who makes my tee shirts as well as his own) rents two spaces. In one he has his tee shirt store right behind me and in the other he sells fancy knackworst and German beer-- Polaner at $5/bottle. On the other side of the store an Italian has a small diner type restaurant-- spaghetti with a tuna/tomato sauce, capuccino and mixed drinks and in the other doorway a jeweler who sets up on a card table and sells larimar earrings.
           Aside from Richard, the other retail person in Mundo is Modesta and she really is the glue that holds the day-to-day business together. She is also the type that will grab a mop when the house cleaner moves too slowly and she will run the hose up to the tinaco to fill it with water when the odd jobs guy is goofing off; she is paid for 8 hours but opens every morning at 9 and stays to lock up at 9 at night while her youngest kid, about 10 sleeps on the floor behind the register. When it is slow and she is caught up during the day she will go into a back room and sleep in a chair with her head on a desk for a half hour or so. She is bone thin, blonde with white-grey eyes and ears that stick out. Last Wednesday when I went in to work Modesta was not there and Richard told me that her oldest son, 22 and a recent high school graduate had been killed the night before in a motorcycle accident. Evidently the stoplight was badly timed; while he was accelerating through a green an SUV went through on a stale yellow and killed him instantly in the middle of the intersection. There were lots of witnesses and the driver of the SUV was detained by the crowd and arrested. I went to the funeral home in Gualey with Jocasta and her husband Juan Paulo and then on to the cemetary in San Luis just outside the city past Hainamosa.

They bury them quick here. That day employees from Mundo went in shifts to go see Modesta in the funeral home in Gualey, a famously tough slum. I asked Jocasta if I could go with her since I did not know the way. She said that she was going to go on to the cemetary afterwards but it would be quick and I was welcome. Around 2 PM her husband, Juan Paulo, picked us up along with about 5 other people and we crammed into the crew cab of his listing pick-up truck. The funeral home was packed. Modesta was seated in the front of the room near the coffin that was closed but had a small window over the boy's face. There was blood caked in his hair and cotton balls stuffed in his nostrils and ears, no makeup. Modesta cried wailing nonstop and hugged hanging on to each person in the line who stepped up. She recognized me and cried “OH, DuVall” and cried on.

The cemetery was a lot farther away than I thought. Outside the city and farther than Hainamosa all the way to San Luis. There were two school busses full of mourners and at least 20 other vehicles not counting motorcycles. We wove our way in through the above- ground tombs and monuments overgrown with grass and weeds, past one that said Morillo, when I asked Juan Paulo if that was his family he nodded yes. The coffin was on the ground. The boy's sister was sprawled on top of it screaming. His father, who had barely been evident in the funeral home-- he is divorced from Modesta and has his own family-- was front and center tears streaming non stop down his face and Modesta was standing quietly a few meters away. A number of tough looking teens had scaled a nearby building and watched from the roof. A preacher spoke for 10 or 15 minutes and then 6 people hoisted the coffin up on their shoulders to a crescendo of screaming and crying. Modest broke down again and they  slid the box into an opening in the tomb like the middle drawer of a giant concrete file cabinet. The preacher said a few more words and we walked slowly back through the weeds to the pick-up truck.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your past experience. Hope you'll be always happy in future. Try to overcome.
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