Observing indigenous Mayan people is one of the many charms of La Antigua that has captured me. One of the things that strikes me most about this intriguing culture is the maturity I see in the young Mayan children. This little girl, who looks to be no more than five-years-old, is calmly sitting by herself watching the daily activity and buzz on the cobbled street before her. Her hands are folded neatly in her lap and her feet are held together “ladylike.” She appears perfectly grown-up in her behavior. At the time I took this photo, there was a mime performing in the street entertaining me and many other tourists. Other non-Mayan children were actively engaged with the mime, falling prey to his silly tricks, giggling all the while. Yet, this little Mayan girl simply watched on from her curbside perch – interested, but not engaged. This is certainly not the first time I’ve witnessed such adult-like behavior from Mayan children at such a young age. Of course, I’ve seen plenty at play as well, but through my observations, I find that Mayan children possess a maturity level that is often well beyond their years. Even now, I must admit, I wouldn’t possess as much grace as this little girl while sitting on a curb. The maturity must come from their culture of working early and young. While hawking their handmade goods, many Mayan children display expert sales skills that could rival that of any high-pressure salesmen in the States. Often, I see five-year-old children caring for newborns. For them, it’s normal. For me, they’re little grown ups.
text and photo by Laura McNamara.
About Guest Contributor: Laura McNamara is a Web-savvy new media journalist well-versed in all facets of reporting and coverage. She has blogged her way through more than 20 countries across the globe. Yet, it’s La Antigua Guatemala that has captured her heart. Currently, she’s setting up “base camp” from the charming, colonial town surrounded by fuming volcanoes. You can look for her work around town as she begins writing for The Revue as a freelance contributor. She is also hunting for venues to sell her photography.