The first encounter was so swift, I didn’t know what hit me. The fact that I wasn’t robbed blind is a miracle, because: (1) I am so naïve; and (2) I didn’t know about the Ciganos until the next day, when my neighbor shopkeeper, a realtor by the name of Carvalho, told me in very broken English, that I had encountered gypsies. They came to the store almost at closing and within a flash, had taken what they wanted from the cooler, threw a twenty at me, demanded change immediately, and whoosh, they were gone into a waiting truck. A woman around the age of 20 and a little girl with unbrushed hair, wearing filthy clothing. They took a container of chocolate milk only. But they paid for it, and as the locals recanted stories of their unfavorable encounters with the Ciganos, I realized that I had come up quite lucky. From that day on, we knew “the Ciganos were in town.”
They lived in a large encampment set up on an empty lot a few blocks south of the café. They had all the modern conveniences, just without concrete confinements. They had t.v.’s, refrigerators, generators, late model cars and trucks. They were pretty wealthy by the town’s standards. I was told that they lived that way by choice. By living on vacant property, they paid no taxes. And since they were nomadic, this was really their best option. They spoke a different language, which we later ascertained was Romanian, and they were a handsome bunch in their own right.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story in tomorrow’s post.
Till then, ciao!