A Photographer in Central America
I should probably start with this disclaimer: I am a horrible writer.
Not only do I have a tendency to switch tenses three times in a sentence (which really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise seeing as I was dubbed ‘Queen of Run-On Sentences’ in Junior High Grammar class and can easily write an entire paragraph void of any useful punctuation), but I also love sharing useless little details. So in short, bear with me.
I should probably introduce you to how this entire trip got underway.
I write this with the snow falling outside, my dog curled up on my lap with his head bobbing along with my sporadic typing, a cup of decent coffee in front of me, a tiny bit of chocolate to help me forget about the snow, and Dala playing in the background. A little escape for the editing and emails I have been working through.
On May 1 I boarded a plane with a one backpack and camera bag. Now, I have come to realize there are different packing strategies for international travel and believe I should elaborate on why I chose the one I did. They are as follows:
1.‘In Case’ Method.
This method is highly employed by my family in the form of hard shell suitcases. You can easily pack enough clothes to wear a different set everyday for a month without once having to do laundry, just in case wherever you are traveling runs out of water; you can leave enough room to bring an entire artisan’s stand of textiles home, just in case you forget about a distant relative with a mean ability to hold a grudge when buying souvenirs; you can bring the hospital equivalent of a medicine cabinet, just in case someone may contract a severe case of car sickness – or dengue fever; and the kitchen sink – just in case of course. This method however does not work when traveling on chicken buses (story found in previous post).
2. ‘Bottomless Pit Optimization’ Method
I really don’t know what it is about duffle bags, but when using them I can only envision the scene from Mary Poppins as she first arrives at the Banks’ household and begins pulling out all sorts of oddities. Organization is overrated. You always know whatever you may try to stuff into it will fit. This method is similar to the ‘In Case’ method but is geared towards men (just an observation).
And last but not least….
I used this method for this recent trip. It includes going to the local outdoor store and purchasing a backpack that fits the following thought criteria a) “it is big enough, I won’t be bringing that much stuff” b) “it looks inconspicuous enough that I shouldn’t be held at knifepoint for my two pairs of dirty socks” and most importantly c) “it is on sale.” Upon trying to pack said backpack however you come to realize that what was termed a ‘necessity’ 30 seconds previously is now an expendable luxury. Packing becomes a giant budget game in which hygiene, comfort, and traveling fully clothed do battle for that 30L of space.
After cinching the top and buckling the straps I couldn’t help but, with three years of Biomedical eduction behind me, look at the final product and say “Behold, a perfect anaerobic environment.” (For all you non-science nerds this means ‘without air’). Coming from an ‘In Case’ method family this is one of my greatest accomplishments and shall be going on my resume.
So began my trip to Guatemala.
Below is another of my favourite couples. Don Desiderio and Doña Tecla reside in Todos Santos, Huehuetenango where they are a well respected family. Prior to the escalation of violence during the Civil War Don Desiderio was the mayor of Todos Santos for two years. In 1991 the founder of CAUSE Canada, Paul, approached Don Desiderio at the prospect of starting a nursery to help combat the growing problem of uncontrolled deforestation. For seventeen years Don Desiderio spearheaded the project before being made director of Institucion Mam de Desarrollo Integral (IMDI) – providing potable water, pilas (device used for laundry and washing dishes present in most Guatemalan households), agriculture knowledge and health initiatives.
Don Desiderio and Doña Tecla are now retired and dedicated to working at home growing milpa, apples, and peaches.
The last image just warms my heart. One night while returning to my hotel I turned around to see Bobby, the local dog, stopped under a streetlight after following me that far from the interns’ place.