The crows in my yard at home make a lot of noise. They swoop and dive and loudly call at each other, "caw, caw, caw." They walk in the grass, looking large like turkeys. They sort of give me the creeps.
Sometimes, an ordinary experience like a hearing a crow caw acts as a reminder of an extraordinary experience of the past.
The crows remind me of the vultures. They swooped, hovered over warm spots, perched everywhere. Side by side with people, they pecked at the garbage. Side by side with people, they lived in the stink of the San Salvador municipal garbage dump.
Eleven years ago, those vultures gave me the creeps. Eleven years ago, that stench entered my nostrils. Eleven years ago, families looked at me and I looked at them. They gathered their life and livelihood from the garbage; I stood speechless holding a camera. They sought shelter from the sun under tattered plastic rooftops; I wore sunscreen and a new hat. They were home; I got into a bus and drove away.
Eleven years later, the dump has been closed but the stink still lives in my nose and the cries of the vultures still live in my ears and the images of kids picking through garbage still break my heart. Those kids are grown now - I hope. The families have homes now - I hope. The adults have work now - I hope. The new generation is going to school now - I hope.