Portraits of Santa Catarina

In July I traveled to Guatemala to documentary the work of a NGO operating in the villages around Lake Atitlan. Before I began my assignment I spent three days living with a family of artesian women. Not only did I document the day to day activities and chores of my host family, I ventured out into the streets of Santa Catarina and photographed some of the people living here.

The most notable connection I made was with a boy named Jorge. Before my guide left me in Santa Catarina, he hired Jorge to show me around the town and act as my translator should I need one. Jorge is 12 years old.  His family owns a restaurant in the town square. He goes to and English school and speaks English, Spanish and Kaqchikel. Kaqchikel is the primary language of this particular indigenous popular. There are several different dialects spoken in Guatemala. For many members of this population, Spanish is their second language. Some of the older people only speak Kaqchikel.

Jorge and I spent a good portion of the afternoon walking through the village of Santa Catarina. After several mentions of the price of a soccer ball, 75 quetzales, I decided to buy one for my new friend. Jorge’s face lit up when I gave him the soccer ball. He was shocked that I bought him the shiny, brand new, black and white soccer ball. He even asked me, “Is this really for me? Can I keep if forever?”  I told him that it was a gift from me to him for helping me and show me around the village. I had never seen anyone get that happy about anything before. I can say that this was the best gift that I have ever giving someone.

Jorge and I played a couple of games of soccer before we parted ways. Later that evening I ventured down to a restaurant on the lake. I ordered a beer and sat outside on the porch. I watched the young men play soccer on the court I had played only hours before. I noticed that the ball they were using was still shiny, unlike most of the soccer balls I have seen. After scanning the court, I noticed Jorge playing on one of the teams. It gave me a good feeling to know that a simple gift such as a soccer ball, could bring so much fun and entertainment to a group of people.

It was the best $10 I have ever spent.

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 Women making bracelets, Santa Catarina

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Boys outside of school, Santa Catarina

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Jorge, my translator in front of lake Atitlan, Santa Catarina

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Girls selling bracelets, Santa Catarina

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Woman selling food on the street, Santa Catarina

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Luiz, Santa Catarina

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Girl and boy with no shoes, Santa Catarina

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Jorge and Luiz playing football, Santa Catarina

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Jorge’s little brother in the restaurant their family owns, Santa Catarina

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Boys outside of a store, Santa Catarina

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