Walking out of the brown wooden door of Hotel Quinta de las Flores I begin walking towards Central Park in Antigua, Guatemala. Every once in awhile nervously looking up from the uneven cobblestone ground to see the colorful architecture, businesses and people surrounding me.
15 minutes pass and I’ve arrived. Unlocking my eyes from the ground I look up to see a huge fountain right smack dab in middle. Child laughter and conversations of both locals and foreigners infused the air. Streets not only filled with people, but with food vendors and horses carriages.
Strolling through the park I’m approached left and right by more than a handful of men and women wearing bright vibrant colors of red, purple, blue, green and yellow. Jewelry, scarves, musical instruments, food and much more flash into my view as I am asked to buy this or that. I kindly smile and reply no thank you over and over again.
Men and women are not the only ones who approach me. Boys and girls – children – approach me as well. Most of these children looking no older than six or seven. While observing these children trying to sell their goods I question to myself why they are out here working. I question if their family is nearby or if they have family at all. I question if this could be considered child labor. I question how this can be their childhood.
As one who believes in helping others – as one who nanny’s back home – I can’t help but feel guilty telling these children “no gracias.” I can’t help, but feel sorry for them. I can’t help but feel sadness in my heart.