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There was one thing I was a little nervous about before visiting Guatemala again. And that was taking pictures of the people. I knew I was going to bring my DSLR camera with me, but that’s not inconspicuous or anything. The first time I visited, 12 years ago, I didn’t have my big camera but a disposable camera. I will never forget people telling me to not take pictures of the Guatemalans because they believed taking a picture of them stole their soul.

So 15-year-old me was taking pictures on my disposable camera of this little park outside of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. I didn’t notice the man sitting on the bench at first, but he grabbed my attention when he quickly covered his eyes and stood up like he had been frightened by something. He was probably terrified of me stealing his soul with my little disposable camera. I felt so bad I muttered an apology in Spanish to him and stopped taking pictures.

This time around, I asked some people who had been there recently about this belief. They said some in the smaller villages still believe that you’ll steal their soul with a single picture, but most do not. They just said make sure you ask their permission first. I was so happy to find that when I asked for a photo, not only did they say yes, but most gave me the most heart warming and genuine smile.

This is Joselias. He’s the little boy who was my shadow all week at the work site. I had more fun playing with him than laying blocks and mortar. Jose is 11-years-old and had his first communion while we were there. Here he is smiling for a photo for me in front of a coffee tree.Portraits of Guatemalan People

This man works at the coffee co-op we toured in San Juan, Guatemala. He rakes the coffee fruit and picks out all the sticks and leaves before they take the seeds, or the coffee beans out. Portraits of Guatemalan People

Now this is what I’m talking about when I say they give you such a heart warming and genuine smile! This little girl was playing with her sister in a tuc tuc on the side of the street. When I asked her for a photo, she gave me the most beautiful smile! This has got to be my most favorite picture from the trip.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

This was our tour guide at the coffee co-op. I learned a lot while I was there, like they don’t roast their own beans here. It’s too expensive so they sell and ship unroasted coffee beans in order to save money. Also, the coffee is 100% organic but the American organic seal is really expensive so they use the German organic seal on their coffee.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

This little boy was fishing with his family on the dock in San Juan. All they were using was a spool of fishing line, a hook, and worms. For someone who has spent entirely too much money on new fly fishing gear, watching them catch fish with no rod was an eye opener. I did get to watch him pull in a small fish, which was intended for their dinner.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

These lovely ladies were sorting coffee beans at the coffee co-op. When I asked them for a photo, they smiled and said yes, but not before they straightened up and the sweet lady in front uncrossed her legs.

Portraits of Guatemalan People

As we head into a week  where we celebrate as a nation all that we are thankful for, I can’t help but think of these beautiful people. I can hope that they remain happy, healthy, and thankful too.