Sunday, September 29, 2013

Street Life: Issue #1

Location: North Central Downtown
  • This segment will highlight a specific area of San Antonio through photographs, history, and intrigue. Armed with a Nikon digital camera, I'll be roaming the streets in search of a story, in search of defining characteristics of a community.
Earlier this month, I made a trek to the north central sector of downtown after scattered rainshowers had subsided. I started out at Martin and Navarro, stopping by the remodeled Hotel Havana and Ocho Lounge, making my way west to check out the ongoing community garden project - Little Patch Garden. On my journey I encountered an herb spiral, tourists, and patrons from the notorious Gloria's Lounge on N. Flores st.

 -Hotel Havana-
-this photo reminds of me walking the streets of Philadelphia in the fall-
 -vacant lots are all too common in downtown SA, this one is for rent-

-Little Patch Garden: 405 N Main Ave-
 -Herb spiral-
  •  While perusing the garden, a slim, older man flagged me down, "joven...oyes...joven". His name is Lazaro, a Spanish variant of the Hebrew "Lazarus", though everyone calls him Lazarito - a common suffix added as a term of endearment in latin-american culture.
Our conversation proceeded entirely in Spanish.
  • A patron of Gloria's Lounge, he was well into his fourth beer at 3pm and decided for a walk around the block. Hailing from Cuba, he traveled the world before settling down in SA in the 1980s. He spotted me observing the root he stands next to in this photo. He told me that these were common throughout Cuba and began to tell a story of encountering them in his childhood.
  • He asked me if I was familiar with the neighborhood, his neighborhood stretching a few blocks on Flores st. I told him that I have been living in SA since 1993 but only recently have I been discovering the downtown area. He told me of the years where the streets in the area were not safe at night during the '80s and '90s. He said that things have been cleaned up recently, but still to be careful when walking this area of town after dark. "...ten cuidado, joven"
  • I asked him if he missed his home country. "My heart will always belong to Cuba," he told me, but he wanted to see the world. He asked me how much I knew of Fidel Castro. Not much, I told him, but I am eager to learn the history of Central American and South American countries. We discussed the portrayal of Fidel Castro by the U.S. government and media. "That's only one side of the story," he said, "the U.S. dislikes countries that are not willing to follow its model [of liberal capitalism], so they'll badmouth those leaders to discredit their reputation and leadership."
 -Lorax mural across the street from Little Patch-
  • He was glad that I was willing to engage him in conversation. "I love to speak with the youth," he said, "I am able to learn so much about the world from them." We spoke of our love for music, art, and culture.
  • He invited me to Gloria's for a cerveza or two. "Come on, follow me and I'll tell you a story about a man, an artist from Spain with a mustache that curled up to his eyes," illustrating a curling motion with his fingers. "Oh, you're speaking of Salvador Dali, no?" His eyes lit up when I asked the question. "Yes, yes! Come on!" I made my way toward my parking spot, turning around one last time to take in the glorious afternoon. "Maybe next time, Lazarito," I shouted back.