Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Puerto Vallarta

Arrived in Pacific Ocean city of Puerto Vallarta today after a 5 1/2 hour bus ride from Tlaquepaque. Hopefully some of the following will be of interest. :-)

Taking local buses.

Whether in Mexico or Costa Rica, the peoples' transportation is both a sight & an experience. It's as if any hope of suspension was ripped out of these buses either by intent or the difficult roads. Today I had the fun of sitting in the very back of a local bus. 4 pesos, about 55 cents, earns a ride more active than many an amusement park experience!

Contrast between 1st & 3rd world.

I've only seen a small slice of PV, but the contrast is sharp. As I walked around on the normal search for my accomodations, I saw a very busy tourist scene. Pricey shops, restaurants, tourist abound. The climate is warm, the sun bright. No doubt the beach will be nice tomorrow. PV gets 300 days of sunshine a year. (This is wild as I type I'm watching on my mini laptop the health care vote in the House - technology is amazing. Bill just passed!)

After settling into a 4 month old hostel (Vallarta Sun), I walked east only 3 blocks and I was back in Mexico! Locals sat on the corners, seemingly unaware of the wealth nearby, a poor couple sat across the street on a concrete block as their young children entertained themselves pulling each other on a well worn piece of cloth. Men bent under hoods of old American cars, worked to extend the old vehicles' lives. You see so many American cars from the 70's & 80's or earlier on the streets. Not uncommon is the sight of old VWs, some looking like they are truly on their last legs or is that axles!

Minimum wage for employees serving the tourists is 20 pesos a day, $ 1.59 US dollars. No wonder I feel a tad out of place among the well heeled. The more time I've lived among those who have little, the more not only how well off we are, but in many ways, how spoiled.

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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.