Downtown Tucson is bustling with people. The swealtering heat doesn't seem to stop them from trekking out of their air conditioned offices around noon onto the streets humming with cars, bicycles and transients to grab a bite to eat at the corner bistro.
This part of the city has an intoxicating perfume. A mixture of hot sidewalk, fossil fuels, and hot dog vendors. It's an irresistable grittiness I rarely experience, but always find fascinating.
I park and walk through the maze of asphalt, cement and brick to the library entrance. At the doorway, I'm accosted by a throng of teens carrying clipboards and pens, the papers on them petitioning for all kinds of things... a total smoking ban in Tucson, an increase in programs like Head Start, and so on. I sign a few, and pass on a few, then head inside to the cool and quiet.
Downstairs, tables are set out with poster board presentations, papers and explanations about the different kinds of refugees and the different groups that help them locally.
The room is packed full of people speaking different languages, some I recognize, some I don't. I hear French, the Spanish, then something resembling Russian, and then there are the Somali Bantu. Their language is as foreign to me as I can possibly imagine... yet...
I walk around taking pictures, trying to figure out why these people in their colourful clothing make me feel so comfortable. Why the children, ranging from possibly 2 years old to 13 or 14 remind me of something. The Bantu people bring back memories for me.
Familiar faces of people I've never met.
Memories of the smiling faces of the children I played with as a child. They spoke another language. Something just as different and foreign as the languages spoken in this room. Fading memories of another home I left when I was young.
A guitarist from Romania sings Tom Waits songs for a little while, then traditional Romanian songs. Two women get up and stand next to him, singing. Their eyes closed as they dance a little dance and sing along. The memories they have of the home they were forced to leave who knows how long ago.
These are, in my opinion, the beautiful people.