Tomas Lopez Ramirez leans silently on his cart on 5th Avenida Norte across from Caf Portal in Central Park of Antigua, Guatema. The jangle of bells, babbling salesmen, roaring engines and the clicks and clacks of horseshoes on cobblestone fill the square. His pink and yellow hat hides his smile and eyes, but as children, tourists and locals swivel their heads around the park, the flash of color stops their gaze. Their eyes travel from his hat down to his wooden cart. In green lettering, the side reads “Deliciosos Super Helados, La Favorita,” above and below a grinning duck.
Lopez serves his ice cream to tourists, who can also soak their taste buds with a latte from one of theseveral coffee shops across the street. Or experience traditional Guatemalan chicken, sausage, rice, beans, and of course rice and corn tortillas, just a few blocks away.
But every day at 9:30 a.m., Lopez parks his white cart, with sky blue accents, at the same entrance of Central Park. Every day he wears his Van Dutch hat. Every day the complexion of skin is darkened by the sun. Every day he sells ice cream.
“I am always here, even if it rains, or if there are no people here,” Lopez said.
Lopez sells a different flavor each day. He might serve strawberry ice cream one day or lime on another. Like his hat, the colors of Guatemala appear in the cones and the ice cream.
Lopez always greets his customers with a smile. It’s Hhis interaction with people, especially with children, makes him smile. In his younger years, he worked with children in an orphanage in Sumpango, a 35-minute drive north, called Casa Alianza.
“I am happy because the children are happy, because I helped them,” Lopez said.
He also was a security officer at an ATM station by Central Park for 11 years. But sales run in the family. His wife, along with their five children, wander the park selling candy and cigarettes.
When the sun sets behind Cafe Portal, Lopez counts his earnings for the day, about 60 quetzales, or $8. He grabs hold of the two handles of his cart and follows the sun as it falls into the western horizon. The colors of his pink and yellow hat mimic those of the sunset as he starts his 30-minute trek home down the cobblestone.