The Telluride Puerto Rican community
Telluride is a small, wealthy and art based community in Colorado. During the winter months it is a ski resort. It is a beautiful place settled in the San Juan mountains and attracts many tourists throughout the year. The many restaurants, bars and vacation accommodations have a tireless and hidden background staff. This background staff is generally made up off Puerto Rican immigrants who work all hours tending to the needs of such a town. This hidden community generally keep themselves to themselves because of the unsociable hours and language barrier. I’ve visited the area many times and love it immensely, but like most people have never given a thought to what makes the community run so efficiently. With each visit I’ve taken photos of various things, but I saw a photo opportunity at the local park with this guys.
Before approaching them I asked a local I was in conversation with if they spoke English. He told me that they didn’t and I’d do well not to approach them as thy might steal my huge and sexy camera. I thought this was nonsense and decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. When I walked over to them I indeed found out that none of them spoke English but for one guy who understood one or two words (eg. hello, thank you, goodbye). Their wives, girlfriends and children sat on the edge of the court chatting amongst themselves. They seemed completely bewildered at being approached by a white person. The locals obviously don’t interact with them outside of working hours, which is sad.
The warning about them being dangerous was as nonsensical as I thought it would be. They were simply families enjoying the sunshine on their day off. Armed with a smile I gestured with my camera that I would like to take some photos, they nodded and returned the smile. They then returned to their game, their families watching me with intrigue. The guys themselves were obviously having a good time being photographed, laughing and jibing with each other in the typical male way. I couldn’t understand them but their body language was the same as guy friends mocking each other, I am sure they were saying things like….
“Dude, don’t miss the hoop you’re on camera!”
The experience was a lot of fun for all involved. I somehow got the impression that they were loving the attention, as if someone at last thought them as important, equal human beings. I am not for one minute saying that people who live in Telluride are racist, they are not – they are an extremely forward thinking community. It just appears to me that everyone is so busy with their own lives that certain things go unnoticed .
Anyway, back to the story. After about an hour of taking photos I felt confident enough to step it up a notch, I also felt that they had completely accepted me as a group and were just getting on with things. I wanted a better vantage point, the top of the hoop board would be ideal but how the hell could I get up there. I figured that simple body language would work, and it did. I went and stood at the base of the hoop post and looked up. I gestured that I needed them to lift me up so I could climb the rest of the way and position myself where I wanted. They immediately got the idea and gathered around me to help. Their facial expressions and laughter were telling me that they thought I was completely mad, but they helped me none the less. I’m forever thankful to them because I am very happy with the shots I got from above the hoop. It was extremely unsafe for me to do so. My feet were positioned on two thin bars, my hips lent against the board itself and I had BOTH hands on my heavy camera. Every time the ball hit the board I was reminded at the danger.
I stayed up there for about thirty minutes. When it was time to come down, they eagerly grouped up and made sure I got down safely. We parted ways with lots of handshakes, smiles and thank yous. What a warm bunch they are. One of the above photographs now hangs in the entrance one of the Telluride establishments.
I’ve traveled there a few times since, and I often pass one or more of the guys in the street. We always exchange smiles.