It wasn’t in my plans to stop at this place; the noontime heat here is as intense as in Cuba. Indeed, Maracaibo, Venezuela is as hot as Santiago de Cuba. However, the car I was in thought that it was time to stop and cool its engine.
Under a group of trees were several tables at which were sitting several boys and girls with chess boards in front of them. I don’t care for chess, but I went over to the kids to steal some of the cool air from the trees.
There was no reticence in their looks, and from the kids came smiles and greetings. People have told me that people from Maracaibo seem a lot like Cubans, and that seems to be so, because in less than five minutes another group of children —a soccer ball among them— took me over to a small field and we begin kicking the ball around.
I chased behind the ball with the same joy as when I was 10 or 12. They were not bothered in asking me where I was from; they only whispered and laughed among themselves at my strange way of talking.
Daniel preferred to be the goalkeeper; he was good at that. But when the other ones saw that I was taking pictures of him, they suddenly preferred that position too. So, it was better to organize a penalty kick, that way all of them could appear in the photo.
A “kikimbol” game was about to begin and we had to leave the field. Kikimbol is like baseball, except there’s no bat and a soccer ball is used instead.
Three of the teens asked me to take pictures of them as well, though they weren’t playing with me then, they said they had been playing a half hour earlier.
Two little girls, from those who had been learning how to play chess, wanted to find out what was hanging from my neck, what type of bird it was. They wanted their pictures taken as well including a photo of the three together.
They also wanted me to stay a little while longer to play with them, or that I come back the next day, because every day in this neighborhood known as Villa Feliz (Happy town), they leave their homes to learn new games or simply to run after a ball. This is because they’re children, and that’s what children usually do.
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