I’m staying in a small town on the coast of Ecuador. It’s been raining the past few days, and the streets are wet and muddy. I was waiting for the bus and a man on a motorbike pulled up, behind him, a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old sat on the bike. She was holding on to his sides with her tiny little hands. The man was wearing a helmet, the child was not. She was wearing a small pink backpack, totally unfazed by the experience.
They stopped in front of me momentarily. The girl looked at me with vague interest, probably wondering who the strange looking person with the white face and large beard was. Then a woman walked up carrying an even smaller child, a boy, and placed him on the seat behind the girl. The woman put the boy’s backpack on him, and the boy’s hands on the little girl’s backpack so he could hold on with whatever force a 3 year old boy could muster. I looked at his hands on the girl’s backpack, and the girl’s hands on the man’s jacket. They weren’t even straining. If they’d held a glass of milk with that grip it’d fall and shatter on the ground. This was all that would keep them on the motorbike, as the man drove off down the busy, rainy road to take them to school.