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July 08, 2008

Innocence in Chiapas

- Boxing Day, Chiapas, 1997

Of all the photos I have ever taken in my life so far, this one is my favorite.

I was on a 3-week tour of the Yucatan which included about 5 days in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. It was a quiet day. A few days prior, December 22, there had been a massacre in a place not far from San Cristobal de las Casas called Acteal. After that, the town square was being guarded by armed military. Strangely enough, at the time, it didn't seem as frightening as it should have to a Canadian who never sees rifles in public let alone military convoys on the roads leading in and out of town.

I was walking down the dusty streets. It was really, really hot. Some of the shops were open and I came upon these two beautiful little girls. They were waiting for their mother inside the shop. They seemed extraordinarily clean and the whiteness of their shirts really caught my attention and surprised me.

The littlest one was so demure. She's looking up at me a little bit intimidated. The older one has a look that I have never quite figured out. I can't tell if she's annoyed or just tired.

No matter how many times I look at this photo, I always have questions about these little girls. That's what I like about it. That's what keeps it interesting to me.

When I look at it now, in spite of how much I love looking at their faces, I also feel a little ashamed, too intrusive, yet another stranger,rich tourista, capturing innocence that wasn't ever meant to be for sale.

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