The edge of el Parque central
Today in the park, Lamarr and I were sitting on a bench people watching, perro [dog] watching for me, when a young girl come up trying to sell bracelets. When I said "No, gracias", I expected her to go away like most of the vendors do. Yet, she just stood there next to me and I could see her staring at me out of the corner of my eye. Her black hair was tied back in a ponytail that had become a bit unkempt during the day, she wore the traditional blouse with intricate flowering, yet you could see that the shirt had been worn thin and had much use, and her arms were covered in some sort of bumps or rash that did not look at all comfortable. She had sad eyes--maybe she was giving me a pitiful look on purpose. If so, it worked.

She had to have been there for at least a few minutes. After our extended silence, I asked if I could buy her ice cream instead of buying a bracelet. When she had approached, I was scarfing down an ice cream cone. Eating the ice cream as this little girl was staring at me is what made me feel so terrible, almost hoping she'd go away so I wouldn't have to think any longer about refusing to buy Q5 bracelets. At any rate, she said she'd like that. I got up from the bench, telling her to show me the icre cream she wanted. She pointed to the opposite side of the park. There were vendors much closer, why did she want to g all the way over there? Was it perhaps her dad that she was trying to help?

As we walked through the  park, we passed young boys, probably the same age as her, driving small motorized cars that only wealthy families can afford. I think this sight was what shook me more than anything. It is so hard to accept that this is the situation in Guatemala and so many other countries: that there are children who have everything that they could ever ask for or dream of in the same park playing while the majority of children there are selling bracelets or offering a shoeshine just to support their families in hopes that they put enough food on the table or make end's meet. And how can people, especially the wealthy, be so accepting of this? There is absolutely no difference between these two children-the only difference is fate. She was born into one situation, him into another. As individuals who were born into such a fortunate situation in which having enough or going to school was never a question, it is more than ever apparent to me that we are all responsible for one another's well being, especially that of children.

We reached the ice cream cart and it didn't appear that she knew the man. I paid for the icre cream and gave it to her. She thanked me and I headed back to the bench...after sitting on the bench for about a minute, Rebecca reappears and sits down next to me on the bench. She is picking at the ice cream bar with her fingers, digging out pieces of cookie with her vanilla ice cream covered fingers. We talk a bit more. Rebecca is 6. She has 4 brothers. They all work at the park too. I try to ask a few more questions, but she is rather quiet, so I stop asking questions and let her eat her ice cream in peace...

There is so much I realize now that I wish I could have told her then. I wish I could have told her that she was great and that she was the most special person I have met thusfar during my time here. When I began writing this, I grew increasingly converned about whether this was the right thing to do. Maybe I should have just given her the money instead so she could take it back to her family and help them. I hope more than anything that she doesn't get in trouble for accepting the ice cream instead of selling a bracelet. However, if she was able to feel like any other kid in the park who was playing with bubbles or driving a miniature car or spending leisurely time with his family, then it was definitely worth the Q10 that I spent on ice cream. It's a small price to pay for somebody being able to be a kid--even if it's just for a bit.

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    This blog contains excerpts from my journal that I kept while in Guatemala. It details some of my memorable experiences from the summer and tries to illustrate some of the culture shock that I experienced, along with detailing the Guatemalan culture from an outsider's perspective.


    December 2009
    July 2009
    June 2009


    Culture Shock
    Structural Violence

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