Mayan girls of Lago Izabal, Guatemala.
When our sailboat drops anchor for the first time near Finca Jocoro we are greeted by a hundred kids. Most don’t speak Spanish but Qeqchi. They are wearing secondhand American clothes, the younger ones are naked. An average family here has between 7 and 10 kids and the village seams entirely populated by children. I notice that many of the older girls are holding babies in their arms, the way girls back in Canada are holding dolls, but they don’t look like kids playing with toys, rather like miniature mothers.
A Mayan girl starts working helping with chores around the house as soon as she turns three: feeding the chickens and ducks, the cats and dogs, cleaning the house, washing the clothes. The older girls’ responsibilities include carrying firewood, making tortillas, selling produce at the market, but mainly: taking care of the youngsters. Thus, they are ready to be mothers and housewives even before they reach puberty.
Everywhere I go: in Finca Jocoro, El Estor, Finca Paraiso, Playa Pataxte, I am captivated by the indigenous girls’ maturity and mysterious coarse beauty. I ask them if I can photograph them. The bravest ones face my huge camera, some for the first time in their life, with reservation and mistrust, but many refuse to be photographed, giggle and hide. Still, in just a few days I accumulate an impressive collection of girl-portraits from the local Qeqchi communities of Lago Izabal. I name the project “Pricesas Mayas de Guatemala”. It attempts to reveal the Mayan girls’ present reality in their natural surroundings challenging the western norms for beautyand and innosence.