photo by joel martin

"Me llamo Eddie."

There were few things on our trip more reliable than Eddie. While we set up camp in Antigua, Guatemala for a week in October, one thing we could always count on was that if we went outside our hostel and into the van for any reason, Eddie would soon be right there too. Actually the first time I met the kid I assumed he was a thief because he just hopped right up into the van without asking or introducing himself, and just like that he picked up a skateboard that was lying on the floor of Sandy and began examining it, and speaking to me. Unfortunately my insignificant knowledge of the Spanish language once again barred me from having any sort of momentous conversations with Eddie, but over the course of the week we communicated enough through hand signals and various simple Spanish phrases that by the end of our time together, we had established quite a little rapport. I even ended up meeting his mom at one point…

Nearest I could tell, Eddie was kind of a street kid. He hung out all day on the block our hostel was on, walking up and down, talking to locals and strangers alike. The kid had no sort of social anxiety to speak of, he would talk to just about anyone he saw, and get right up into their space. He followed me over to the van on many occasions and just dug around inside, picking up any little piece of film gear or camping supply and looking it over and over trying to distinguish what it was for. He was just curious all the time. He also acted as a bit of a van guardian. Guatemala was a place we had heard over and over again to be careful of thievery in. We took as much stuff as we could inside locked doors, but throughout the days, Eddie was watching, and we knew we didn’t have to worry.

His guardianship of our belongings was more than enough to necessitate some photo portraiture, so I whipped out the camera and printer one time when he was digging around in our glove compartment. At once he was all over it, opening the printer and loading paper into it without hesitation. In fact, he was one of the hardest people to photograph so far because he wanted to be behind the camera more than anything else. Every time I snapped a photo of him, he would stop and hold out his hands, waiting for me to put the camera in them so that he could turn around and take a photo of me. We played this little game of photo ping-pong for a while until I finally got him to sit still for a couple shots. He only wanted to pose in front of the van, and what’s more when he posed, he posed. The kid went straight into serious model-face and model-stance whenever the lens was pointed in his general direction, and then as soon as I put the camera down he was right there behind the camera again, scoping out the image and telling me if it was good or not.

The last time I saw Eddie, he helped me walk to every camera store in town in town so I could find a new GoPro Camera mount. Shockingly there were like 6 camera stores in Antigua, and Eddie marched me right into the doors of every single one of them, and helped me to communicate with the shopkeepers to ask for what I was looking for. Even more shockingly, all six camera stores basically had the exact same inventory, and none of them happened to have what I was looking for, but I got a chance to cruise the city with this street-slick kid who as far as I could tell knew just about every single person in town. Everywhere we went people were bumping fists with him, or catching up just to say hi. I felt cool just standing with him, like he was upping my status, which honestly as a gringo in a foreign city goes quite a long way. We parted ways at a Subway sandwich shop a block away from the Hostel. He had done good work trotting me all over town, even if it was to no avail, so I got him a turkey sandwich and watched him run off and remember thinking that I hoped I would see him again on some future day when I eventually return to Antigua. And then I realized that I probably would… I would just have to return to the same street corner and voila, there he would be. Like I said, the kid is reliable.

photo by joel martin