“Years ago,” Mexican poet Luis Cotto-Vasallo writes in one of his poems, “a debate stirred up Mt Olympus.”
I’m not interested in debates. The only thing I want to stir up is the air around my face on this hot summer day, so I set out to search for an abanico, a hand-held fan.
Near one of the bus stops, I see a religious goods store. Surely, they will have an abanico, perhaps emblazoned with the visage of the Virgin, or maybe depicting the Good Shepherd, leading his flock to green pastures.
I step up to the counter.
“Buenos días,” I say apologetically, “pero hablo solo poquito español. Abanico?”
The woman shakes her head sorrowfully, and says she had no fans in her store. But, she says with a smile, I can find a fan in another little store one block to the right, and two blocks to the left.
I follow her directions, and find the little shop. Unmistakable. The window is plastered with abanicos.
Once more, I apologize for my limited Spanish as I ask for an abanico. The woman behind the counter smiles and points to a box full of abanicos (probably made in China) in a variety of colors.
“Que precio?” I ask. What price?
“Quince,” she replies. Fifteen pesos.
I rummage through the box until I find a fan in my favorite color, blue, and hand the shopkeeper a twenty-peso note. She drops my change, five pesos, into my outstretched hand.
“Gracias!” I say.
No stirring up debates this afternoon. Just stirring up the stifling air in the bus on the long ride back to my apartment.
Little brown sparrow,
although you have no road map,
still you find your way.
Text and photo © 2017 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved