We have seen and met many kind, friendly, and generous people during our past five days in Guatemala. Right now, however, I am frustrated.
Most of us went for a hike this morning. After our hike and eating lunch, many of us went up to the office to buy weavings, purses, and bags. I came along and had my first experience with the beggars that approach Fr. Hazelton.
As I approached the office there were many people waiting around the yard. Many of our students were gathered around a table inside the building choosing which goods they wanted to buy. I went through the gate to look at the goods too and sat down to wait for the crowd of students to clear before I did my shopping. As I sat in the chair, Fr. Hazelton arrived in his blue Landcruiser. The crowd on the lawn immediately surrounded the vehicle, almost preventing him from getting out. The crowd moved with him as he walked to unlock the gate to his residence. He spoke to them as he entered and as they clung to the gate, hearing their requests. He then walked into his office, closed the door, and returned two minutes later to listen to them again. I felt very awkward sitting behind Fr. Hazelton as the people begged to him from the other side of the gate. As much as I am sympathetic for their poverty and needs, I am getting frustrated by the amount of time they are spending for the opportunity to beg.
Some of the students have been staying in this same building that the beggars gather around, seeing the same people appear every day. Some of the Carroll people who did not go hiking today spent some of the morning playing with the children of one of the families that has been on the grounds all week. After a few hours of play, one of the children has been attempting to steal from some of us. Some of us were surprised by it and some of us were mad about it. I think it makes us feel like every child’s smile or wave that we have received so far has been deceptive, an attempt to take advantage of us. For now, I think most of us are hurt and a little less trusting.