I am back in Tuxtla and reflecting about my time in Guatemala. The first thing that comes to mind is that I think the Mayans are the most beautiful and dignified race of people I have ever come across (and that's a few). However, they are very resistant to being photographed. The children selling souvenirs insisted on receiving a tip if you wanted their picture and others were not much easier to convince. Paying 14 cents to have someone's photo isn't such a bad deal anyway. There is a story behind most of these photos.
* I admit I cheated on the above photo. I was looking at a pyramid and surreptitiously snapping a picture of this family having a Christmas Day picnic at Tikal. I knew they would not let me take a photo.
* This is Pablo Culum. He informed me that he is a school official trying to raise money for a school in a small town on Lago de Atitlan. Naturally I was suspicious but his notarized documents stating these facts certainly gave him some credibility. When he was stumped by my question about what the name of the school was, his credibility took a real hit.
* The Mayan kids I met have much more responsibility than kids at home in Canada. Often they are looking after a baby or selling souvenirs all day without any kind of supervision. It is rare to see them smile. I stopped asking them to smile for photos because they didn't seem to have a lot to smile about. Why should I make them smile for posterity if they weren't happy to begin with?
* I met this little guy in the market in Solola. he seemed quite interested in who I was and where I was from. He wasn't working and I am guessing he is not from a poor family.
* Cindy couldn't have been more than five or six and worked from morning until night selling little fridge magnet dolls. She was very persistent and after three or four attempts to sell me a doll, I finally coughed over the
paltry sum of 5 quetzales (thinking she wouldn't keep trying to sell me stuff). Of course she kept appearing trying to sell more dolls. She would never remember that I had bought one from her. Even after I pointed out this out, she insisted I buy more. I suggested that if I had bought one hundred dolls, she would still come to me asking me to buy one more. She looked reflective for a moment, smiled sweetly and told me, Yes (she would). Fortunately she was not too cycnical and burnt out to smile for the camera.
* I met Rius in Parque Central in Antigua. She was quite determined to sell me some weavings, and was willing to accept payment in pesos. She was very friendly and interested in who I was instead of just getting my money and I quite enjoyed talking to her. The vast majority of vendors (children and adults alike) just saw us (tourists) as faceless moneybags. Ruis was different and I was happy to have met and talked with her. I purchased a beautiful weaving similar to the one she is holding.
** PS: I finally was able to add the photos that I tried to post on Christmas day. If any of the three of you are interested, the post is called Feliz Navidad from Guatemala, Tikal. It now has a few more photos than it did.
*** By the way, Feliz Año Nuevo.