Postcard from Guatemalaby Patricia Thayer on 08/23/20
"¡Esos no son mis hijos!!" ("Those are not my children!") the Guatemalan mother calls out to me, grinning widely.
While relaxing in the central plaza of a small, peaceful village in Guatemala, I admire a mother and her four young children. They are doing the family laundry in the open-air pila, a communal wash basin at the edge of the plaza, laughing and chatting among themselves as they work. I very much want to take their picture, but approach cautiously. Speaking Spanish haltingly, I first compliment the mother on her beautiful and helpful children. Then I ask if I can take a picture of them with my camera. The mother smiles and asks her children. The four eagerly agree . . . for a price. They name their fee, and as I am getting the money out of my bag, four children surround me with hands outstretched. I proceed to pay them. Immediately, I hear a commotion from the pila. Looking up, I see four squealing children and their grinning mother yelling, "Esos no son mis hijos!" At this, the other children run away laughing with money in hand. But a deal is a deal, so I pay the young entrepreneurs to pose for my photo as I join in their laughter. As I part, I hear the mother and her children still laughing and chatting among themselves as they resume their work, now with something new to laugh and talk about...me! Why do I travel? To share laughter and good humor with others wherever I am in the world. (July 2004)