With each step, I knew I was entering a different world: the world of the park.
Each stranger passing by glanced, but most stared uncontrollably. I quickly realized how prominently I stood out as a foreigner. Majority of the Guatemalans at Central Park were locals targeting tourists, such as myself. Although I am not the only tourist in Antigua, Guatemala, my presence in this foreign country is anything but unknown.
I stood as still as a statue as my eyes drifted across the horizon. I glanced left and right, yet allowing my vision to drift with the various movements occurring in the park. The sun’s subtle rays indicated that the arrival of the sunset was near and each drop of water falling behind me reminded me of my current location.
Each step I took, I observed my surroundings. My goal was to find an individual or a place that I found fascinating. As I neared the end of one lap around the park, I observed a young girl. She was sitting on the edge of a curb, holding a baby and sitting next to a young boy. She was too young to have a child of her own, with her age being no more than 9 years old, but something about her situation intrigued me.
A small blanket covered the child softly in her arms. The girl was cradling the baby as she was in a deep slumber. I approached her and asked if I could take her photo. She said yes, but was not deeply affected by my presence. She continued rocking the child, left to right, and gently rubbed the baby’s hands as she slept. I asked for her name, and she replied with Jaekeline Michelle.
Jaekeline sat up tall with a form of confidence and maturity. The baby in her arms, Kimberly, and the boy to right, Esaul, were not siblings, but cousins. Jaekeline explained that it is common for her to care for her cousins while her aunt is at work, and it was evident that she does it without hesitation or complaint.
A smile spread across my face as I observed Jaekeline closer. She slowly drew the blanket off of one-year-old Kimberly as she rested, and the slightest smirk showed on her face. She hesitated to move an inch and seemed to plan her breaths far and few between, with a fear of waking Kimberly. Although there was a language barrier, the smiles we shared said enough. I thanked Jaekeline and then walked away slowly.
Towards the end of the day, I sat on a curb near eight and ten year old children selling Marlboro cigarettes, Blow Pop suckers, and cookies in a wicker basket. Within minutes, Jaekeline and Esaul spotted me and sat down without hesitation. Esaul rested his head on my shoulder and Jaekeline stared ahead without speaking a word.