A Beautiful Place

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When I need to think quietly, I descend the mountain to the shore to visit the Hotel Villa Catarina. In their immaculately pruned gardens, I sip herbal tea and wonder how other hotel visitors see my home. From the boat dock or a lounge chair, they must see paradise.

But venture further up the shore, past the vacation homes, to meet women wading in the lake, cortes rolled to their knees, to wash their clothes and dishes in water polluted with raw sewage. Or wander along one of the paths that wind up the mountain through crowded houses, some with dirt floors, fire pits, mud brick walls. See trickle down the slopes cascades where some families collect water for their homes, cloudy and littered with aluminum cans and plastic bags. Breathe in the thick smoke that billows from chimney pipes.

I wish everyone could see my home as I do. Peering beyond pruned hedges and into the life of the woman who sells her weavings near the garden gate, visitors would witness, and perhaps begin to comprehend, how people suffer tremendously in this beautiful place.