02 Dec 2015

Central America by beginswithq

5/43

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At the bar the night before I meet Maurice. Everyone knows him, he is also known as "one of the top ten things to do at Caye Caulker." I bought him a beer he offered me all sorts of drugs. I scored some weed and told him I needed something else that's very hard to find: access. What I needed was a fixer: a person from the area who knows everyone that would introduce me to the locals so I can take their photos. Maurice, dying to please, appreciative of the beer, and looking to make more money agreed to be my fixer.

So today Maurice and I met up in the afternoon and he takes me all around town. He introduces me to his cousins, friends, and acquaintances. I got to meander the streets outside of the tourist areas. I would never have found this on my own. At one point he said, "Ok, man now I take you to the ghetto, the place where real people are." He takes me to a very poor part of town. We walk down a neighborhood where kids are loitering and looking at me; the only tourist on this part of town. We head into a run down set of houses. We continue through the back and through a yard full of debris. We wind around large pieces junk and hop on some boards over puddles to finally reach a back room.

At this point the hairs on the back of my neck were standing. I was in danger with no clear escape route. Given this was the middle of the day. But I was lost with a drug dealer deep in the ghetto. My danger senses were up and I was extremely nervous.

I thought to myself, "I did it again; in my search for adventure, I have put myself in harm's way." But I had one thing going for me, the joint I bought for Maurice earlier in the day. He stood at the door of this rundown apartment and negotiated with the people inside. After five minutes we were allowed in. It turned out to be just his friends who live in a small one room house. They were happy to have a free joint to smoke so they allowed me in to sit, talk, and smoke. It was the room of a Maurice's friend and his sister. Their bedroom/house was no bigger than my SF living room. There was just enough room for a bed, a super small table and that was it. They hung all their belongings in bags on the wall. They had very little. They were as close to the "dollar a day" people I would meet up close on this trip. The room was too dark and portraits didn't come out well. But the image of the brother and sister in this small house behind the junkyard lives vividly in my mind.