People I have met

Sofia is a girl here in Panajachel that, along with her kid brother Luis, tries to sell us bracelets every time we go out to eat. She has a small basket with eclectic stuff; beaded jewelry, woven bracelets and ceramic animals. She finds it funny that Avri is studying Spanish and likes to stare at him doing his homework. Luis, who is probably 4 years old, doesn’t speak much Spanish either—only Kaqchikel. She is small and sweet and I want to buy all her bracelets so I can feel like I am helping her somehow but I know it’s no help.

Alicia is a girl who saw me drawing with some markers I bought and asked if she could use them as well. She put her merchandise basket aside, I gave her a piece of paper and we sat side by side in silence, each with her drawing. She took her time and used all the colors and when she was finished she showed me a beautiful drawing of a colorful house surrounded by colorful flowers and a happy girl next to it. I hope Alicia is happy. I hope Sofia is happy and I hope Luis is happy.

I met a woman here who just separated from her husband who, after years of marriage, became physically abusive and she is trying to find her way again, hoping not to lose her kids in the process.

There’s so much talk these days about privilege and nationalities and races and opportunities and righteousness and I feel sometimes enveloped in struggle, in pain, in drama, in helplessness, in resignation. And then there’s the life, the love, the laughter. And the health.

I had been thinking a lot about my years in the film and tv industry and how lucky I was to get in there and work steadily with great people and great projects for many years. I thought about the woman who gave me my first opportunity— a fast and witty Israeli who was producing a show that was half in Spanish and half in Hebrew. She used to drink her morning coffee at a cafe in Tel Aviv where a friend of mine worked as a waitress, and one day she asked my friend (who was from Colombia) if she knew any Spanish speaker that would want to work as a personal assistant to Gustavo Bermudez, the Argentinian soap opera mega-star. I had just finished my 3rd year in film school and, although I had no idea who Gustavo was, I was thrilled when I got her call. I started working as his assistant but quickly took on more responsibilities and by the second session, I became the script supervisor. After that she hired me for another project, and then she got me my first feature film job with a dream cast and crew. That was our last production together. I thought about her and her big smile and loud laughter and her platform sandals and I decided to look her up and say hi and thank you. When I found her on Facebook I found out that she passed away a couple of months ago after a long battle with cancer. I cried. I am crying again now as I write this. I hope she was happy.

Like my grandma always tells me, I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and make everything better, and everyone healthy and everybody happy. I wish I had that wand.