Scott Bennett is a photographer and university professor living in San Diego, California. He is currently working on a long-term documentary project focusing on key themes in Latin America, including urbanization, immigration, and...
Mamá Güicha searches for the necessary items to make coffee, clearing the stove to put some water on to boil. It is great to see her going around the kitchen getting the things that she needs. (February 16, 2017)
Mamá Güicha insists on taking me outside to see the terrace while the water is beginning to boil for the coffee. It was great seeing her again in the house and getting a short tour. (February 16, 2017)
Mamá Güicha tries her best to wash off some dirty coffee cups that were in the sink. I eventually had to help her to make sure that they were clean. Overall, she does really well and has help in the kitchen. I was happy to be a part of the afternoon when we had coffee together. (February 16, 2017)
While waiting for the water to boil, Mamá Güicha offers me some yogurt drinks. I decided to wait and have Guatemlalan sweet bread (pan dulce) with our coffee. The bread is one of my favorites, and it was definitely worth waiting for. Mamá Güicha definitely exudes a presence of wisdom and experience, and it was great catching up during our time together. (February 16, 2017)
Mamá Güicha's kitchen has not changed much over the past forty years or more. Here a ceramic rooster sits on a small table, seemingly locked in both the past and present. Being the matriarch of the family, she has experienced many things and shared in many family members' lives. (February 16, 2017)
Photos of our family are all over Mamá Güicha's house, including on the dresser and shelves in her bedroom. Here is a shelf in the living room with various family photos, including ones that we had given to her over the years. She is both loved and revered in a special way, and it was good to see all of the family photos all over the house. (February 16, 2017)
The shadow of Mamá Güicha finishes boiling the water for the coffee, something that she has done many times over the years. I was glad to have the chance to spend some time with her and catch up. (February 16, 2017)
As we sit down to drink coffee and eat sweet bread, Mamá Güicha shares about experiences and times in the past that we did things together. At this point, she remembers everyone in the family, their names, and even trips we went on together, such as to the Grand Canyon, a place that she had dreamed of visiting since she was young. (February 16, 2017)
The hot water now in a serving jug, we both poured the instant coffee and spent time talking and reminiscing about the past. It was a wonderful afternoon filled with laughter and the sharing of memories. (February 16, 2017)
Mamá Güicha's telephone, along with many prescriptions, books and magazines (from many years before) are just a few of the items from around the house that show a bit of Mamá Güicha's personality. I really like the land line phone, and one of her most important possessions, her Bible. (February 16, 2017)
After drinking coffee and having a long conversation, Mamá Güicha shows me the balcony to her house. The traffic is loud, but it doesn't seem to bother Mamá Güicha at all. Many changes have happened in Guatemala City, and she has definitely witnessed a lot of them over the years. (February 16, 2017)
On a recent trip to Guatemala to photograph coffee farms, I stopped by to visit Mamá Güicha, my wife's grandmother, who lives in Guatemala City. She had raised my wife since she was young, and is undoubtedly the matriarch of the family. Although it had been a few years since I had seen her in Guatemala, it was very strange that she didn't recognize who I was at first. This could be due to the fact that I surprised her without telling her that I was coming, but it also made me sense that her blindness in one eye, and the fact that I showed up out of the blue, coupled with her aging, had caused this strange interaction between such close family members. I was definitely struck by how much older she looked since the the last time I had seen her. She did remember me once I mentioned my wife, but I think it has to do with her aging and some forgetfullness as well. She does live with other family members, and is not alone. She is actually quite independent and stubborn, and has decided to live a certain way.
After, we laughed and spent time together, and she told me many stories of things that we had done as a family before. I was lucky to have her make me coffee, and I decided to photograph the time with her as she prepared the coffee and some of the details of the house around us. Nostalgia hit me hard, considering that she had forgot who I was, but at the same time there were photos of me and my wife all over the house. In many ways, my time with Mamá Güicha reminded me to not take life for granted, because ultimately it is ephemeral and fleeting. Moreover, the sense of loneliness and abandonment that Mamá Güicha seemed to be experiencing reminded me that it was time to make a few more visits to Guatemala (with my wife) in order to spend more time with this amazing and strong woman who is such a pillar in the family. My photo essay focuses on the details of our time when we had coffee, and can be considered a tribute to a wonderful grandma and woman who has endured much over the years. Her strength and strong will are definitely to be commended, and I hope that my photo essay will show some of these qualities in her.