Apart from the goods in the shops and bazaars, everything cost a dollar – a Coke, a beer, a packet of gum from a child street vendor. The town was an important crossing point, geared to goods and the tourist trade. I bought a couple of belt buckles and then decided to just buy a Coke and watch it all go by from a pavement table. A girl of about nine or ten years offered me a paper flower or a small bear – a dollar for either – and I opted for the latter. She was handsome, polite, dignified, and held herself with grace. She was obviously capable, could handle money, and plied her trade with a confidence born of experience. Her paper flowers were an explosion of yellow, white and lavender under a searing sun; her clothes and shoes were dusty rather than dirty, and her hair shone under an Alice band. Although she was neither ragged nor starved, I felt sad that she had to spend a precious childhood out on the street when she should be playing or learning, and I couldn’t help reflecting on how different her lot was to that of a child born just one scant mile further north on Mother Earth. Nogales was not the place for me and I made my way back to the border.

Young Girl, Nogales

Copyright  Alice Starmore
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