I stumbled on this photograph today and decided to post it although I’m well aware of how poor a shot it is. It was taken in Guatemala in 1999. My manual Nikon FM10 had broken on me so I was using some shitty disposable camera. In fact it wasn’t disposable but it should have been. I was working with a team of people who were exhuming graves that dated from the height of the civil war (1980-81). The man on the left was in his early seventies (in my memory, although he doesn’t look it now). He made his way slowly down the hill on which we were working, weaving around and leaning on the banana plants as he went.
I remember how cheerful he was. How warm and friendly his face was. He spoke about the violence and said that he knew everyone that had disappeared. I remember him saying that those that had passed were the lucky ones as the rest went on suffering. I also remember being surprised at what I saw as a complete lack of fear about death. As we spoke I took some pictures and on seeing the camera he asked me ‘¿Como esta mi Corazón? (How is my heart?). My friend, who doesn’t appear in the picture but is standing to the right, started to laugh.
“He thinks you’re a doctor, the only white people he would have seen would have been doctors from ‘Doctors without borders’. They don’t get any tourists up here. He must think that’s some sort of heart monitor.”
So I told him the truth.
“Esta muy bien su Corozón Señor, muy muy bien.”