Cien Pesos

Before starting this journey, I mentioned that I would like to walk around PV and give as many 10 peso coins out as possible … and I invited anyone who was interested to participate by sending me money to give away. Thanks to each of you who donated, and I’d like to tell you about some of the people you blessed today.

But before I do that, let me just say that it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all, to get overwhelmed by how many people are in need. Bill Gates could liquidate his entire estate and give it all away in small increments … and barely touch the world. So today I tried not to feel overwhelmed, and I just gave to the people who I encountered that seemed to be needier than others.

One young man appeared intoxicated, but in spite of that I dropped a 10 peso coin into the Styrofoam cup he held to his chest.

As I walked along the boardwalk next to the beach, an older man with a walker in front of him was sitting down but he had fallen asleep with his head in his chest. I placed 10 pesos beside his pack of cigarettes, unbeknownst to him.

While walking down the sidewalk I came across an older woman in a simple dress walking very slowly. I reached in my pocket to give her 10 pesos, and she immediately launched into an animated display in Spanish while gesturing with her finger over my shoulder. I shook my head to indicate that I did not understand what she was saying, but I sensed that she was referring to other people she knew and was asking for more money. So I reached into my pocket and gave her another 10 peso coin, but she continued to gesture and ask for more. The one thing I picked up was “cien pesos” (100 pesos), which she repeated several times. Then I cowered out and lied to her by saying, “No le entendi,” which means “I don’t understand.” I may not have understood most of what she was saying, but I did understand that she was asking for 100 pesos. So then I reached in my pocket and gave her another 10 peso coin, and told her “Vaya con Dio” (Go with God) and walked away. To her that may have sounded like the empty blessing mentioned by Jesus, the thing he told his disciples not to do; Jesus cautioned his disciples not to refuse help to the poor while telling them “Go and be well fed.”

In my defense, I did think about spreading the 10 peso gifts around, that I did not want to give too much to any one person. However, as I walked along I felt increasingly guilty, and just as my self-flagellation grew more intense I came up behind an older man, hunched over, walking with a cane. His feet seemed swollen and he could barely walk. I reached in my pocket to give him a 20 peso bill, and he raised his head up slightly and with brightened eyes said “gracias.” I also said to him “Vaya con Dio,” but the knowing look he gave me revealed that he knew more about going with God than I will ever know … and that maybe God put him in my path at that moment to be a salve for my soul.