Mexico City is huge. HUGE. It comes as no surprise that in a city so large, there are people so different from each other that you question if you are in the same city still or not.
*Knowing* of the HUGE income gap and *witnessing* the evidence of it are two completely different experiences. No matter how many places I go and witness people hardly getting by, or not getting by, I never get used to it. It tears at your heart and the faces of these people struggling become slightly etched in your memory.
Yesterday while running errands in our SUV, we pulled up to a stoplight with a family waiting for the next round of cars. The father had a cup in one hand and a lighter in another. He took a swig of the liquid, lifted his face in the air, and spewed the liquid while holding the lighter in front of his mouth.
This photo is from the wikipedia page on fire breathing. Even had I had my camera on me, I wouldn't have been able to bring myself to take a photo. What it would have captured was the man's toothless smile of thanks when cars rolled down the window to hand his wife a peso or two. Or the way his wife carried their infant child, not quite walking yet, in her arms in a dirt soaked rebozo. Or the way the wife didnt make eye contact with anyone at all. Or how stark the differences were in the people in the cars, and the man on the street breathing fire to feed his family. The car next to us was a brand new BMW of some sort, with a man in a suit at the wheel. In front of us, an Audi.
On the street, a family so desperate for money to survive that they will do anything to make it. People performing at stoplights is fairly common here. People sell snacks, drinks, cigarrettes, car shades, anything. People dress as clowns, play musical instruments, wash windows. There is a particular corner on our way downtown that always has Guatemalans asking for money, holding up their Guatemalan IDs or currency as "proof" that they aren't from here. And they always say they are on the way to the US, just need a little money to make it the rest of the way. Yesterday was the first time I saw a fire breather, and I can't shake the memory.
The only thing separating me from this family? Where I was born, what family I was born into, and the oppurtunities I was given as a child. There are simply not enough jobs to go around, and those who have experience, education, and money are given the first pick. Those without all of the above?
Breathe fire to feed their families.
And the children born into these families?
I don't want to think about it.