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A story in six acts / Una historia en seis escenas

08.09.08 | 2 Comments

Diego Ramírez (right) and a co-worker pick up tobacco leaves and put them on a truck that will take them to a barn, in Kinston, NC.

We were driving along route 70 West outside Kinston, NC, when we saw this scene in a field to the side of the road: workers picking up tobacco leaves and loading a truck with them. We stopped to take pictures and try to talk to them. // Íbamos por la ruta 70 al oeste, cerca de Kinston, North Carolina, cuando vimos esta escena en un campo al costado del camino: trabajadores recogiendo hojas de tabaco y cargándolas en un camión. Nos detuvimos para sacar fotos y tratar de entrevistarlos.

The boss arrives while I'm interviewing Diego Ramírez, a Guatemalan tobacco picker.I approached them and started a conversation. The guy who was driving the truck was the most talkative. He is Diego Ramírez, 33, from Guatemala City. First thing he said was, “Puro Obama”, something like “Obama 100.” We talked for a bit, then he saw whom I think was his boss arrive. He said he had to leave immediately, so I asked him a few more rapid questions and asked him to let me take a picture. // Me les acerqué y comenzamos a hablar. El que manejaba era el más conversador: Diego Ramírez (33) de la Ciudad de Guatemala. Lo primero que me dijo fue: “Puro Obama, Puro Obama”. Hablamos un ratito, hasta que vio llegar a quien pienso era su jefe. Diego dijo que se tenía que ir ahí mismo, así que le pregunté algunos datos más y le pedí que me dejara tomarle una foto.

The boss approaches as I hurriedly write down basic info.While I was taking down Diego’s name, last name, country of origin, age…, the boss approached fast to see what was going on. I couldn’t see him but Amy, in the car, started taking pictures. (Maybe she was hoping for a confrontation?) Diego Ramírez repeatedly told me, “I gotta go… Ok, that’s it… See you…” But I wouldn’t let go until I had the basic info and one decent picture. // Mientras anotaba el nombre, apellido, país y edad de Diego, el jefe se acercó rápido para ver qué pasaba allí. Yo no lo vi, pero Amy, en el auto, comenzó a tomar fotos. (¿Tal vez quería tener las exclusivas de una pelea?) Diego Ramírez me decía: “Me tengo que ir… ya, don Diego… nos vemos…” Pero yo le seguía preguntando y, luego, sacando fotos.

The boss asks, The boss asked, “What’s going on here?” in a gruff voice. I didn’t turn my head because I was having trouble measuring the light inside the truck’s cabin and I hadn’t been able to get a decent picture of my Guatemalan namesake yet. I knew that if I paid any attention to the boss, my hopes of getting a picture would be lost. // El jefe preguntó con voz hosca: “¿Qué está pasando acá?No lo miré porque me estaba costando medir la luz dentro de la cabina del camión y sacar una buena foto. Sabía que si le prestaba atención al jefe, mis esperanzas de sacar una foto decente morirían ahí mismo.

As Diego left, I told the boss what was happening and he was OK with it... I think.Finally, Diego R. -who was too nice to me, considering the situation- said he really had to leave and started driving the truck away. I told the boss what was going on and he was OK with it…, I think -I didn’t understand a few phrases of his, since I’m not very used to Southern accents yet-. // Finalmente, Diego R. -que estuvo más que gentil conmigo, en semejante situación- dijo que en serio se tenía que ir y arrancó el camión. Le expliqué al jefe lo que pasaba y me parece que no le molestó… me parece porque algunas cosas no le entendí. Todavía me cuesta entender algunos acentos aquí en el Sur.

The boss and I had a little chat. He said all his workers had green cards.After Diego left, the boss said that all the workers here had green cards and explained a little bit about the tobacco harvest. Well, very little, indeed: he said they were taking it to a barn. Although it looks as if he’s telling me to go somewhere not very nice, it was all a calmer affair than it looked like at the start. // Cuando Diego se fue, el jefe me dijo que todos sus trabajadores tienen “green cards” (residencia en EE.UU.) y me explicó un poquito de la cosecha de tabaco. Bah, me dijo que estaban llevando las hojas cosechadas a un galpón. Aunque parece que me está diciendo que me vaya a un lugar no muy bonito, al final fue todo mucho más tranquilo de lo que podría haberse esperado.

Oh, sí, in the end I did get Diego’s picture. // Ah, yes, al final sí le saqué una foto a Diego.

Permanent link / Enlace permanente: http://diegograglia.net/newyorktomexico/?p=27

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« Siler City: another type of ghost town / otro tipo de pueblo fantasma
» NY·DF: Photos sets / Sets de fotos