Jordan is always telling me (Hannah) to take more pictures of the locals so people back home will know what we see on a daily basis.
I always feel conflicted when I get an opportunity to take a photo of a local. In Antigua there are so many tourists from the United States and other countries. Many of them take endless photos of the people here because they are very different than they are used to.
Many of the Guatemalans in Antigua (especially the women) dress in their indigenous clothing. Many are poor and some don’t have shoes. They look rough because they’ve worked hard every day of their lives. They have lost loved ones to preventable diseases. They’ve lost teeth. They’ve lost husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers to war and violence. Many of them live in homes with dirt floors. They are different from us.
They are different, but they are no less intelligent, loving, witty, or charitable than us (I’ve seen poor Guatemalans give to beggars that I walk past everyday and don’t normally give to). So when I get a great photo op I have to stop and think: Would I want random strangers taking pictures of me and my children several times a day? Just because I look strange to them? It just seems wrong…
Having said that I know that most of my friends and family in the US won’t know what life is like here unless we show them through pictures or better yet if they come and visit. Hopefully the few pictures that we do take of the indigenous people will spark your curiosity about Guatemala. Maybe you’ll come visit and see even more. Maybe you’ll decide to stay and find a way to help in some small way.
Whatever you take from these photos, please let it be with respect and awe of these beautiful people and nothing less.