July 19, 2009
San Cristobal, Mexico
Elevation 2349m

There is some sort of fire department demonstration in the plaza today. The fireman rigs the children up in a harness and they are pulled to the higher end and let go, they are essentially sliding down a zip line. There are these two small boys, selling gum and candy out of the little wooden tray they carry, they stand there and watch the other kids go up and down the zip line.

The haves and the have nots. Right there in front of me, as children.

A few days back when I was at Bonampak, there were these three girls running around the ruins. The youngest (5 years old) would ask for money when people want to take her pictures. I sat down in a shady spot for a little bit while waiting for my group and the girls surrounds me wanting to see what shiny things I had with me.

I don’t make a practice of giving anyone money in exchange for a photo but if I have any kind of candy or pen or chap sticks on me, I am happy to give it to them. But mostly, I just talk to them, even if its out of a phrase book. I try to make them laugh and try to understand a little bit more.

As we are leaving, the girls are following behind, saying something to me in Spanish and I don’t understand them. This American woman who is part of my group asks me if I gave them any money and then started to tell me about how she turned down leopards in India. How sometimes the parents would purposely hurt the child so the child would be better at begging. I know what she is telling me to be true. I tell her that I know but does she not feel bad for them? She says that she doesn’t.

They are FUCKING children. How could you not feel bad? Where the fuck is your compassion? Even if there is not much you can do in the situation, you can at least feel, you can at least have compassion.

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