When I got to Humberto’s dark, dusty shop, I found him watching something on his phone, with shoes, belts, and all sorts of leather things stacked up, filling the tiny shop. But the back walls were covered in posters advertising the events where he had performed. Some posters showed a very youthful and handsome man, while others were of a proud older gentleman.
Using my broken Spanish, I explained my dog had chewed through yet another leash and could he sew it up? Smiling at me, he answered in English that he could, and I could just wait. His first step was to apply industrial strength glue, and while we waited for the glue to dry, I asked him if he sang? Putting the leash in the sun to dry, he picked up his guitar and serenaded me, looking into my eyes the entire song.
The glue had dried by then, and he patiently started stitching the leash over and over again, sharing with me the great difficulties local musicians had during the pandemic when everything was shut down. People weren’t getting shoes repaired, and there was no music in his life or money in his pocket. Of course, I bought a CD too.
Reflecting on this later, I realized how different life is outside of the hustle in the USA. Every activity is monitored by computers, from doctors to check out people, Woe be it, to those who can’t keep up. Yes, I am grateful for my simple life here.
No one is going to serenade me back “home” while the glue dries.