I was headed towards the subway, and I saw her about 15 feet in front of me. She appeared to be raising her voice, and was speaking towards someone passing by. As I approached her, the words became more audible and intelligible. “Tamales Calientes,” she said. Or did she say it in English? So accustomed to hearing Spanish spoken, I often mistake it for English, and vice-versa. Also so accustomed to seeing and hearing mobile vendors in El Salvador, it took a moment before I did a double-take. Wait a minute, I said to myself, we’re in BOSTON, what is this woman doing trying to sell her wares informally outside of the subway station?
I don’t know what your city is like, but here in Boston, they are very strict and it takes forever to get a permit to sell anything on a cart in a commercial area, IF you get one. Knowing this, and seeing her walking and selling her wares in a small metal cart she towed, I felt a little cheerleader inside me, saying, You GO, girl! You see, after living outside of the United States for three years, I am now aware of how it has elements of fascism. Everything is so orderly and structured and defined. If one veers even a few inches, let alone feet, out of their ‘range,’ it is noted, may be reported, and oftentimes, you will be CORRECTED! So I wish for ambulatory vendors to descend upon bustling town squares, subway and bus stops all over America. May informal vendors find profit in their disordering of the orderly as they color our days with a variety of products and fill our tummies with sundry food items.
I did not buy hot tamales from the brave woman selling them in Maverick Square, but next time I will. I was delighted to see her and hope to again. I strongly suspect she is Salvadoran, would almost bet on it, though I did not get the chance to ask her. It was as if she were airlifted from an urban corner in San Salvador, and carefully set down here in America, even donning the infamous “delantal” (waist-apron) that nearly all Salvadoran marketeers wear during their daily activities.
It was a little taste of the El Salvador I miss, brought to me unexpectedly this week.