Market day in La Antigua Guatemala is much more than just getting your weekly produce or enjoying a photo moment of local Guatemalan life. To me it’s a sneak peak into the hard lives of the market workers and their families. The markets of Guatemala are full of little kids that have to spend their whole days sitting amongst fruits, vegetables, flowers and anything else that is for sale. Without beds, mothers have to get creative as to where to lay their children down.
I actually always wonder, where do they go after the market, what do they do?
This child is still to young to walk or talk, however, I’ve seen little kids as young as three years old selling stuff while walking through the market. They might not know how to say complete sentences but they can certainly say ‘eight quetzal or one dollar’. The biggest heartbreak is that you become immune to it. Even if you try not to!
Whenever we see these kids anywhere around Guatemala and on some of our travels through Nicaragua my husband constantly brings up that they have absolutely no childhood. They go from sleeping in their mother’s cloths to selling on the streets or cleaning in the house or caring after their siblings without a moment of happiness or childhood.
When we lived in Costa Rica, the landlord of a property I lived on hired a young Nicaraguan boy. He couldn’t have been older than 20. On the same property lived other families with kids. We always left the toys, tricycles and scooters outside. Every free moment he had he used to take these for rides, or you could find him playing with the toys that a five year old would play with and he was having the time of his life! Sheer happiness exuded from him. My husband’s observation was, this is him making up for his lost childhood. I’m sure his life wasn’t much different than the boy in the picture. So maybe these kids can grow up and still make up for their lost youth.
An interesting article describes how these children let out their energy as they get older, even when they are working the streets or at the market. Culture Unshocked: Toys and Play. It gives another point of view into the same culture, but with a different approach from mine.
However, one thing I do agree is, they certainly don’t take anything for granted and even the smallest things that people of different classes overlook, could bring a wonderful experience to them.
text and photo by Marina K. Villatoro
About Guest Contributor: Marina K. Villatoro has been living in Central America for over 7 years and her site Travel Experta is all about traveling in Central America. Marina loves to help people plan the perfect vacation to this amazing part of the world! At her website, you can sign up for her RSS feed and join the fun on her Facebook fan page and follow her on Twitter at @MarinaVillatoro.