Edgar & Luis at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
Luis is 13 years old. Edgar is 12. Their first language is Cakchiquel, the second is Spanish. The Mayan Indians in the highlands of Guatemala speak Cakchiquel.
Joyce Maynard runs a writing workshop in Guatemala every year. She does whatever she can to help many children that live around the lake but especially Luis and Edgar. Joyce has a big heart and the children admire and respect her. They help set the table, or carry the tourist’s luggage. It’s not child labor, they love helping and earning a few Quetzales. They like the feeling of responsibility. Luis is an orphan.
I asked Luis what happened to his parents. He said:
“Murio de tomar. Mi papa esta muerta para cinco anos.”
“He died from drinking. My father has been dead five years.”
And your mother?
“Ella tomo y murio tambien”.
“She drank and died too.”
“Me parece como un mama.”
“She’s like a mother to me”.
“Nos regalan zapatos tambien, y ropa y mochila y utiles escolares (cuaderno, borador, lapiz).”
“She gives us shoes, clothes, backpacks & school supplies. (notebooks, erasers, pencils).”
Louis has been working for her a year. Edgar, a little while longer. They love looking at pictures of themselves so I show them each photo I take.
When we arrived in the rain the first night in Guatemala, neither one had a jacket on. None of the fifteen boys had a jacket.