Chica de Helado
Main Plaza, La Antigua, Guatemala
Oh, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t she just the cutest thing ever?” This little chica has more command presence than most Marine Corps Drill Instructors. I’ve watched her in action for 2-weeks now, and I am thoroughly impressed and intimidated. She works hard, and guards her turf tenaciously. Her turf is one corner of the main plaza, and her product (for the most part) is ice cream. She also peddles Maya tapestries and a few trinkets and baubles. She’s the only kid her age manning an ice cream cart, and her competition is mostly adult. Yes, they’re afraid of her too. Her name is Maria, I call her Mighty Mite.
I have literally seen her run the competition off; that’s not hyperbole that is the truth. Today I finally screwed up the courage to ask for her photo. Her two little beady eyes bore into mine, she shoved a handwoven scarf into my face, and said that if I bought a scarf she would allow the photo. She was dead serious. I declined the scarf, but offered 20 Quetzales (about 2 bucks U.S.), which was double what I paid Juan Pablo the old man I photographed a couple of mornings ago. He didn’t scare me. She did and does. As I mentioned on my post featuring Juan Pablo, I don’t begrudge the compensation one bit. This little kid works hard, all day every day, and has a lot of spunk. She does what she does to support herself and her family.
I wish you could see her beady little eyes and stern scowl, but once the camera was on her she was all sweetness and charm. In this next photo she even threw in a bigger smile for good measure. Unlike Juan Pablo there was absolutely no vanity, just real-world pragmatism—she didn’t even ask to see her in-camera photos. I admire this kid, and all of the kids like her.
Maria you’re an inspiration . . .
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Reporting from La Antigua, Guatemala (Highlands)