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It's all in the art of the display. That introductory lesson I learned from my dad, a competent and successful retailer. High-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, or sidewalk sales in small-town Americana, follow the exact same principle.

When I walked out of a restaurant in Vila Real, Portugal, and directly across the brick road, there was a vendor that made me look twice at his assorted wares arrangement. My dad's wisdom came into play. It was a colorful and neat presentation with the plaid blanket as the finishing touch. The battered truck was clean, and the rusted hubcaps washed of traveling on muddy roads, telling me that the owner had pride in his work. He was ready for business.

Up and down the street, other vendors had similar hats, baskets, and hides for reasonable prices, in my opinion. I didn't cross over to examine items closer for fear that I would be required to put my bargaining skills into practice. (I'm excellent at that if you want to know).

Funny thing, though. If I had walked over to take a second look, one or more hospitable folks would have come out from under the coolness of the awning to tackle the sale. It wasn't a tourist town by any means, and the products were for the consumption of the local Thursday morning farmers market.

Not in need of another straw hat that I couldn't stuff in my suitcase anyhow, I strolled on to the bus stop where poultry, vegetables, and fruits keep my eyes roving from place to place.

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Before the El Salvadorian girl spots me and turns away, or her father glances over his shoulder, checking on her, and frowns at my invasiveness, I shoot the photo. Although El Salvadorians genuinely are happy people, they do not have frequent opportunities to engage with Americans in smaller towns, so not much English is spoken. I move on as quickly as possible into the mass of people and don't look back.


When I return home and study my trip photos from Central America, this particular one refocuses on my love of capturing children's images, who are so unassuming.


The diminutive school girl observes passersby's outside the market in the late afternoon when life reawakens from midday siestas in Conception De Ataco, Ahuachapán. It's been an oppressively hot day, I recall, and while the heat is diminishing with the late winter sun setting, the community is taking advantage of it. There's a festive nature in the air from locals shopping for dinner and the few tourists searching local arts and crafts stalls. The street bustles with uniformed students and their parents. In many cases, it is multi-generational, too, and they weave in and out of shops arm-in-arm. Often a car or delivery truck beeps its horn, and the frustrated driver waves his arm out the window to get the attention of people in his way., There are no sidewalks, and careful footing is required to dodge the potholes.


The schoolgirl puts her backpack down and poses with her hands on her back, which pushes out her stomach so typical of kids anywhere in the world waiting patiently in the doorway. Her yellow bow in her ponytail gives the impression that looking one's best is valued in her home. On the other hand, the boots are for convenience, and her walk home is on dusty and muddy side roads accompanied by a stray dog or goat. Probably school sneakers or shoes is one of her backpack items, and hopefully several books. In El Salvador and other Central American countries, mandatory education goes up through fourth grade in public schools funded by the government. Looks can be deceiving, and determining age is difficult. Central Americans are short in stature, and unless you engage in Spanish conversation with them, your guess is as good as mine as to her age.




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It's not so important always to have a destination in mind. Perhaps, the pleasure could be noticing what's on the way.


Another way to look at it is to draw a radius of miles you determine is feasible for your situation, and make the most of it.


With limited ability to travel the distances I usually do, I am settling in comfortably to short hauls. I mean, short ones. Seven miles. Thirteen miles which contain the closest towns to my house. My car runs are for groceries and other essentials. I am touring the area's radius safely in my car.


One warm afternoon I explored several roads to the west. I discovered several lovely country homes with ponds and manicured lawns that I never paid any attention. The last time I did this route was in the dull gray winter when nothing appeared too exciting.


I came upon a few Guniea Hens near the edge of the road and stopped to photo them, even though they minded their own business. There was a house set back further surrounded by a cluster of trees, and I couldn't see if the residents were home or not. It didn't matter.




On a rural road there is a mixture of rundown houses, trailers and extra cars along with stretches of vast fields and woods. A few are hunting cabins or seasonal use places. Others appear abandoned. I look for stories behind the walls and wonder about the settlement of the area.


With our COVID limitations I surmise more and more people are grateful that they do reside in rural areas, or have opportunities to take short trips there.



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