Day 6: Character Building A portrait

Rosa was going with our friends from the NGO to translate Spanish-Queche Maya..did I want to ride to Penemache to visit?

“Oh, si.”

Once there, I was distracted by the line of traditionally clad, barefoot women waiting in the sharp Winter sun. The light was desperately harsh, even the shadows glared. I had given up on photos, when I saw this gorgeous old woman crossing back into a room.

I had no way to ask if I could take her portrait.

Rosa was too busy.

Then, I heard her cough -raw from 80 years of dust and cooking on open fires…I showed her, with gestures, that I wanted to give her percussion like we do for cystic fibrosis. With my cupped hands I patted her back listening for the most productive areas and asked someone bring water for her. She was breathing a little smoother when I stood up. We smiled, I bowed and put the camera on my shoulder.  I pantomimed the request … She agreed.

I look at her face all the time reflecting on the kindness it shows.

Wondering how she survived the thirty year armed conflict fomented by my country and kept this grace and good humor.



Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

5 thoughts on “Day 6: Character Building A portrait”

  1. I love the photo! I’ve just been to Guatemala and loved it, especially learning about the local people. It’s fantastic how they are just enjoying life, they really are leaving the war behind them. I studied at a Spanish school in Guatemala and watched some really moving films about the war, it was strange to live with a family who remembered it, but were so happy and welcoming! It’s a pretty remarkable country! I stayed in San Pedro for 6 weeks to learn Spanish, and in the process learnt a lot about the locals. I definitely recommend it!

  2. This beautiful portrait photo is like an intricate story. It will be in my mind all day, or longer. You’re right Diane, there is great kindness and wisdom in her eyes, and I think gratitude for your caring. Maryann

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