Antigua Guatemala 1993
Moana. October 22 1993
March 1993, Finca de San Cayetano
Moana and I were so happy doing Spanish lessons, enjoying the friendship of and social activities with other travellers and with our teachers, that we decided we would not venture out to explore the rest of Central America but spend our whole time in Guatemala. I stayed for 6 months. Moana stayed for over a year, eventually working as office manager for the Cervantes School. We took weeks off from our studies to travel and explore the region, but always came back to Antigua for our lessons and to see people with whom we had made friends.
Towards the end of my stay, Moana and I did one month’s volunteer work at a child care centre on a struggling coffee and banana plantation. It was owned and managed by indigenous Guatemalans under cruel opposition from other non-indigenous farmers. There had been raids where their equipment had been stolen or damaged beyond repair, and a level of fear that was evident in their need to make armed patrols of the grounds every night. The groups of foreign volunteers were there, in essence, to provide an extra level of security, for the many families that lived and worked on the plantation. Each day, we played games with the children, made things with them, taught basic literacy and had a lot of fun.
Helen in Quito - 1 June 1989
This is the portrait of Helen White that I loved so much. I remember we laughed a lot at both of the images that resulted from our sitting at the Quito photography studio. The re-touching seemed to have transported us to another era. I found Helen’s delightful and yet somehow spooky, as if she had been morphed with a plastic doll. I also loved my second, hair out, result.
Quito Photo Studio, 18 May 1989
Quito Photo Studio 1 June 1989
Foto Gitano La Paz August 1989
South America, 1989
My collection includes any small portrait photograph, so where there were no booths, I sought out a studio photographer. I had exhausted my supply of photos taken in England, so after two months on the road with my English travelling companion Helen White, I decided to restock. The photo taken in May 1989, above, was the result of a sitting at a small atelier in Quito, Ecuador. At the time I hated this photo. I have never really liked my hair tied back. However, the fact that it had been re-touched enticed me to have another go. Helen was also intrigued by my first results, so two weeks later we headed back for my second sitting and Helen’s first. My vanity was satisfied by the second finished print. Helen’s was a masterpiece!
Some two months later, having again depleted my supply of visa ready photos, a.k.a. swap-pics, I again found a small studio to feed my developing habit. I didn’t choose as well, this time. The photos were poorly focused and developed. You can see the chemical stains in the scans. I didn’t think they would stand the test of time, yet here they are 22 years later looking as tatty and old as the day I got them.