02 August 2007

yesterday i left santa cruz, one of the villages i was staying in until i go to antigua to begin my spanish immersion program. when i was bored i would go down by the docks and watch the little boys who fought each other to carry the luggage of the white people coming ashore. they argue over tourists who may throw them one or two quetzales (one dollar = seven quetzales) to carry their bags up to the fancy hotels on the side of the mountain. they work for people who will not ask and never remember their names. i got to the dock early and watched this kid for a while. there wasn't anything particularly special about him, but i loved the way he stared off into the distance like he was imagining a different life for himself. he was just waiting for the day to begin, eating a bag of corn chips and preparing for nine hours of manual labor.

i left the island and realized i didn't get his name, breaking one of the first rules of journalism i was taught by my mentor, Roy Peter Clark, who forced me to look for even the smallest details and told me "you have to name the dog." i realize it is this that set my writing apart from every other hack out there doing it for a living.

and now i have a photograph of a boy who will remain nameless.

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