I Always Pay my Debts
Though not probably a good idea, I do occasionally give money to some of the neighborhood boys. My rationale is that it is a little like protection money to help ...secure our home from their shenanigans. We have a good rapport with most of them.
Anyway, I was walking our dog the other day and one of the regulars approached me, wanting 50 córdobas to buy some shorts. Yes, things are that cheap here. I commented that his request was a bit more than the usual 10 or 20 córdobas he usually asked for. I only had 20 córdobas on me so I gave it to him thinking what a fine pillar of the community I had become, helping these young boys.
The following day I was walking Kenya again and the young man approached me wanting the 30 córdobas I owed him. What nerve! I owed him 30 córdobas because the previous day he had asked for 50 córdobas and I did not have it. Do they think we are all gringo fools? Then I looked at his shabby clothes, his worn-out sandals and remembered how lucky I was. I gave him the 30 córdobas since he treats me respectfully. I always pay my debts.
This reminds me of another similar incident. We have a lot of friends that are neighbors but many of them are very poor and the smallest thing is a treat for them. I met two of my neighbors one day a couple blocks from the house and they asked if I would treat them to ice cream. Of course, why not since it was a hot day?
We walked to the nearest Eskimo shop and I ordered a cup of caramel ice cream but I did not listen to their orders. We sat at a table and two banana splits were delivered to them which are the most expensive items on the menu. I was furious for being taken advantage of and told them so though they did not understand. I have not yet learned how to curse in Spanish. Why didn’t they just be thankful and order an inexpensive item?
But you know what? A luxury like that is so rare for them. Even the banana split only cost 25 córdobas which is about $1.20. Even after four years I can fall into the role of the ugly American. Blaming my lapse in manners on getting old and crotchety, I apologized to them both and we remain good friends.