Honest, I didn’t believe it when I read the articles in the USA Today and The Daily Mail which declared that Latin America is the place to feel happy: Seven of the top 10 countries are from this region. Furthermore, four of the top countries for well-being index are in Central America. Come on, this Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has to be propaganda to discourage the migration of Central Americans away from Canada, the U.S. and Europe, right? I mean even though they claim the results are based on a new global version of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, this info graphic contradicts a recent article on the SF Gate that suggested we should go back to putting 4,000 to 6,500 babies on the international adoption market: “…the idea that children who might have been legally adopted are instead either risking their lives to sneak over the border or being forced to stay behind in a violence-torn country where half the population lives in poverty.” Even the titles and summaries on the Google Alerts about Guatemala are enough to make you really depressed.
So, when I encountered the first infected happy Guatemalan with a big smile, purple hair and a red nose, I thought to myself, obviously this girl does not read newspapers or watches the news. She has to be an exception in “violence-torn country where half the population lives in poverty.” However, as my fellow photographers and I continue our private photo walk, we stumbled across more happy-infected people, especially around Parque Central. Many of them were just children with big happy smiles, poor souls, but the well-being disease spared no one. Some of them were in the terminal stages as it was evident by the uncontrollable laughs. In a way, it felt like we have just walked into a zombie-infested park. Does anyone read the news anymore? I thought inside my head, but didn’t voice it out.
At this stage, I didn’t know if this happiness was contagious or not, but I did want to put my companions at risk, so I suggested we begin hunting for mermaids in other parts of town with our cameras. Yep, you know it, I did not want to alarm my Canadian photographer pals. This exercise, of course, was pointless, as we run into more people infected with happiness. By the time we arrived at Tanque de La Unión, it was clear and obvious this was a pandemic of cheerful, merry people. We could spot the grinning and blissful faces a block away starting with the big red noses.
To this day, I am not sure what are the causes for the pandemic of cheerful people. One of the articles claimed it was the water. I don’t know, what is your hypothesis?
© 2014, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.