El Pastillita

photo and text by Lina Vergara Huilcamán

-I am el Pastillita. shoeshine. baker. globetrotter. I am from Santiago. I used to have a bakery in Santiago. and I lost it. together with my wife. no. she didn’t cheat on me. that woman robbed me with a brother-in-law. so I left. to Argentina. I have been on the road for forty years. walking. selling candies. polishing shoes. but I am a driver and a baker. people know me by now. they ask me to carry out small jobs to help me pay the room where I sleep. and to eat. no. I have not remarried. I have lost confidence. why should I fight? for whose sake? my daughters criticize me because I polish shoes. but I brought them up thanks to this work. do you see them? they are stealing. pelicans. they are delinquents. pilferers. I am happy in the streets. I have met Mario Moreno the Mexican. in Arica I am discontinuous. now I have been here for four months. I travel. I have been to San Pedro of Atacama. Calama. I have been driving a collective taxi in the Azapa valley for four years. Valparaíso. Antofagasta. Iquique. I am a globetrotter. I like travelling. but now I’m staying here more and more often. I love this place. I have my little room. I am putting down roots. sometimes I feel like leaving and I do it. I go to Argentina. Buenos Aires. my real name? Carlos Escobar. people call me Pastillita because I sell candies. you see, it is written here: el Pastillita. I sell mints. chewing gums. gummies. it also reads Dios es amor. here. will you interview me? when I experienced the complete failure of my marriage. I fled away from my family’s persecution. in search for adventures. I ran away to Argentina. Buenos Aires. as I told you. Iquique Antofagasta... I didn’t want to be found. but I left them everything. the bakery and all the machinery. I don’t know where I will go next time. now I am happy here. you can take a picture of me if you wish. while I am polishing shoes… a big fat woman. inside a pair of very tight jeggings. wearing an emerald green cotton sweater. her long hair shaken by breeze and bad mood. she is talking on her mobile behind us. a fearless pelican stands in the middle of the street. a furious car driver honks like a madman. the pelican doesn’t make a move. it does not even lose its composure. the fat woman screams with her mobile still to her ear. -it is deaf. stupid. it can’t hear you.- the car driver keeps on honking. the pelican continues to mind its own business. the fat woman screams. -stupid man! all day long with your mobile. use it! search for it on google if you don’t believe me. pelicans are deaf. there’s no use in honking.- then she goes on speaking on her mobile. the car driver manages to go ahead, at last. the pelican looks around. it really seems to be deaf. Then it takes off. with its huge fanning wings that wipe us poor and miserable mortals away.