About a year and half into our Guatemalan tour, our daughter was born. And, like many Foreign Service babies, she was an instant rock star.
Unsurprisingly, two very white, blonde people produced a blue-eyed blonde daughter. You know, like this, except not so well-dressed.
The Nino de Praga is just one of the many blue-eyed, blonde characters in Catholic iconography. So, take a blue-eyed, blonde baby to Catholic, family-oriented, Latin America and what do you get?
¡Mira que linda! ¡Que angelita!
Rachel got lots of attention everywhere we went, starting in the hospital, where she was the star attraction in the nursery. Later, while we were out and about, people would ask to borrow her to show the cooks in the kitchen, or a friend in the next tienda over. We joke that Rachel thought her name was Que Linda until we left the country. I am sure it was one reason she was so smiley. She got smiled at a lot.
It’s all a bit racist, I do realize that. But, to be fair, in a country with a majority indigenous and mestizo country, a blue-eyed blonde baby is pretty unusual. Especially in the mountain towns, because really, how many people who look like us take their tiny baby to Totonicapán or Patzún?
When Rachel was a few weeks old, my family came to visit. My dad and brother are big guys, both over six feet tall. They helped out by popping Rachel in the Snugli while we explored mountain villages. Not only had the locals rarely seen a man carrying a baby, they had certainly never seen such a large man carrying a baby strapped to him as a woman would. The petite ladies of the towns could not stop staring and giggling. It was pretty hilarious.
The last few months in Guatemala are a bit of a blur for me, for obvious reasons. My husband’s parents came to visit after my own did (with the first grandchild on both sides, we were very popular that way) and we had some great trips with both families to various towns. There was a quite a bit of shopping, as I recall!
I got a lot of advice on babies as well. I was still too shy to breastfeed in public, so if I sat down to give Rachel a bottle, I’d get asked “porque no le da pecho?” (Why don’t you give her the breast?) And for heavens’ sakes woman, put a hat on that child!
And this kind lady showed me the proper way to carry a baby when she saw her fussing in the silly American backpack.
A baby was a great icebreaker, too. When kids wanted to look at her, I’d ask to take photos. I’m really glad I did, because I’m so enjoying looking at them now!
And finally, diplomatic passport number three arrived, and it was all over. We were all off to a much less colorful and interesting country, alas!