Here are chapters 1-6, Part 1 of the book.
Chapter one introduces the reader to the main character, Raphael Fernandez. Raphael, a fourteen year old dumpsite boy narrates this part of the story and it entails many interesting ideas about the Behala dumpsite. Raphael and his best friend Gardo spend their days searching the endless amounts of rubbish that cover acres of land. They live knee deep in trash along with many others, including children. We find out that most families start their children trash searching as soon as they can walk.
Raphael describes himself as “a trash boy with style” (p.6). This implies that Raphael may be a bit better off than others around him even if he is not a normal boy who has a house, food, and family, he is special and is determined to get somewhere in life.
Nearing the end of the chapter Raphael leaves the reader wondering as he says, “maybe one day you’ll find ‘something nice’. Oh yes. Then one day I did” (p.5). What Raphael finds will change his life forever but what it is that he finds, the reader will just have to wait and see.
Raphael’s “unlucky-lucky day” (p.7) begins at the start of chapter two. This is the day that turns his life and many others upside down. As Gardo, Raphael’s best buddy, and Raphael are searching through trash, glorious trash they come across an untouched delivery under a belt . Using their hooks both boys rummage through stupp (human waste) and rubbish, stupp, rubbish until Raphael uncovers “a small leather bag, zipped up tight and covered in coffee-grounds” (p.8). Unzipping it they find it to contain a wallet with eleven hundred pesos, a photo of a young school girl, an ID card and inside a folded map, a key. Keeping six hundred for himself, Raphael gives Gardo five hundred and they continue searching through the trash so as not to draw attention to themselves. Later on they discover that Jose Angelico from Green Hills is the owner of the bag and on the key there is the number 101 on both sides, mysterious. Raphael is the most excited of the two as he thinks, “With the right key, you can bust the door wide open” (p.9). Raphael seems to understand the potential to open new doors of opportunity in his life.
It’s the evening after Raphael’s amazing discovery and the two boys’ spirits are high. Raphael gave some of the money to his auntie and they have chicken for dinner, a rarity. Everyone’s happily gathered around the fire until big, black cars turn into the dirty streets of Behala and fierce looking policemen step out.
Chapter Three informs the reader that the police are after the bag Raphael found. The men want the bag now and they are not afraid to fight for it, so they agree to pay the dumpsite people one hundred pesos a day in searching for the bag. After trying to get something out of the people without success they are lead to believe that Raphael has something as his auntie told them he had found money that day.
Raphael lied as the police asked him questions and got out of trouble, this time, but Gardo and Raphael expect the worst and decide to take the bag to their friend Jun-Jun, better known as Rat, for safe keeping. The reader is lead to believe that Rat is trustworthy and a close friend as Raphael says, “‘He’ll do it for me’” (p.18). This is just the start of how the three boys lead themselves into a fight for their lives.
Raphael tells the reader after visiting Rat’s ‘house’, “It might seem crazy asking a kid if you can come into his hole, but this hole was about the only thing Rat had…” (p.21). After quite an adventure through the dumpsite Raphael and Gardo arrive at Rat’s house and are not disappointed, for he agrees to take the bag, for only 50 pesos. They talk some more, asking Rat his opinion on the other items in the bag, beside the money, and they discover that Rat knows some very important and valuable information, such as when he says, “This is a locker key for left luggage… Central Station… You wanna go there? We go there now if you want.” (p.26). For just 50 pesos, Rat informs them that he can take them to the station and unlock a part of the mystery!
Rat lives in a hole that the author expresses is an unused belt machinery hole. Imagine living in a deep, dark hole, full of rats… I don’t think that would be the kind of lifestyle I would enjoy. Doing some research about dumpsites I found these pictures of what Rats ‘house’ and area could look like. (see pictures above)
The police come again to Behala the next day and hundreds of dumpsite people search through special deliveries from Green Hills. Up and down the mountains of trash, peoples everyday lives continue under the sharp eyes of the police. Of course no bag is found and the police reluctantly pay all the people before racing off back into town. Gardo, Raphael and Rat are relieved but decide that it is important that they get to the locket as soon as they can. The boys discuss the matter, “Not dealing with the fact that if the police think you’ve got something, they won’t stop till they’ve got it from you.” (p.35) Raphael is in deep danger.
This chapter is full exciting events as the three boys, Rat, Gardo and Raphael go to Central station. It took Raphael at lot of pleading to get Gardo into the plan but he manages it and with Rats they adventure out of Behala. Jumping onto a pasting train they arrive at the station. That part of their plan was one of the easiest as once on the platform they come across the station boys who don’t like other boys to be in their ‘territory’. Lucky for Gardo and Raphael, Rat had lived at the station before coming to Behala and got around the station boys by giving them 90 pesos.
The Three continue on their mission and decide that it would be best if Rat does the locker while the others keep on the lookout for station guards or police. Raphael is quite scared by the experience, “I hadn’t liked the look of the station boys, but now- everywhere I looked I could see mean looking railway guards.” p.40. Gardo again shows great protection over Raphael while they are at the station. Only passing a few people in the lockers hall, Rat successful gets into the locker and finds a package in it. Quickly they get back onto the platform and off onto the tracks, running until they are in the bushes and bramble. They did it! Inside the package the boys found a letter addressed to Gabriel Olondriz a prisoner. And along with they letter a series of numbers. Raphael is relieved to get back in Behala, but he is worried about what they are getting into, “All we were sure of was that we were in something deep, getting deeper.” p.43. The boys are in this together, what ever happens.