It wasn’t really a door; it was an arch in the cement. Inside, looking around the room, I waited for my eyes to adjust. The objects began to take shape. Gradually I realized that this “room” was in fact their entire house. The floor and the walls were cement: no wallpaper, no ceramic tile, no draperies. The cement held the dampness, and the floor was dirty because unsealed cement will not stay clean. For a girl from a two-story suburban Miami home, this room was actually quite creepy, yet there waited a family of five beautiful girls with smiles on their faces. There were very few furnishings. Other features were emerging from the gloom: upturned, discolored white plastic pails, some scraps of clothing, and, oddly enough, a modern electric stove. Glowing coals rested on the dirt at the bottom of the square hole in the center of the cement floor. Three thin iron rods served as the grate upon which rested a cast iron pot. My nose told me, and my eyes confirmed that something was boiling in that pot. The fire was not only their means of cooking food; it kept the chill out and provided maybe 25 watt lighting. Later, looking at the photographs, I realized the only bright object in the room was my blonde hair. Although you couldn’t see into the corners of the room, what was radiant was their pride of ownership.
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