A mistake (?)

I just made a big mistake. I gave them money to pay the rent. It was only the equivalent of $2.00, but I had agreed with myself and with the production people that I wouldn’t do that.

We got back from Chontales this afternoon and dropped them off at their room. Juan Carlos asked me if he could borrow my phone to call his dad, which he did, and it seemed that dad finally agreed to help them along for a while. They were to meet at a nearby street corner at 5.30 pm. I think JC’s mistake was to have called back later, as he spoke to his step mother, who would rather JC disappear altogether from the face of the earth. This despite that he was very nice and educated with her. Anyway, I don’t know what happened, but we waited until dark and daddy didn’t show up. This would have meant that they would have had to leave the room immediately and settle back in the park. We however had to leave for our safety (we agreed never to stay later than 6 pm and had already crossed our curfew by half an hour – this neighborhood is gangland and someone who looks like me and on top of that is swinging around a video camera, is playing with fire). So the move to the park would have to be made by the two of them alone, with all their stuff, the baby, and even the live chicken they brought back from Chontales and who now shares their room.

I was already leaving when they called me back. JC said they had 20 Córdobas themselves (local currency – about 1 dollar) and if I had another 30 they could stay until Monday. I had 40, which after a long speech about how they are the ones who have to save themselves and agreeing they’d never ask again, I paid out.

I am not against giving them things. They often share with us when we eat, and we ended up paying the bus to Chontales. We also paid for all three of the ultrasounds during the pregnancy. This can’t be a one-way street I think. Our rule has been two-fold: that we won’t pay for structural things but we will sometimes for temporary things. Housing is structural, food is temporary. We paid for some pills she needed: also temporary. They know this part of the rule. And secondly, to safeguard the director-protagonist relationship, when it comes to giving them stuff, someone else would always handle it. Usually Alejandro, the social worker. So that if a relationship of dependence develops, it’s not with me, which helps the documentary stay somewhat independent/objective (I know this is impossible, but you get what I’m saying). This time however Alejandro wasn’t around, as the idea was we’d only drop them off.

So that’s how it went. I am feeling bad about it, but hey, I saw little Karla laying there and couldn’t imagine her having to make the move to the park at this hour. Although I suspect that they might end up back at the park at some point, either during the coming week or after I have left.

Here’s a shot of Juan Carlos waiting for his dad. He’s already understanding he won’t show up at this point.


In general, today was a very tense day. Our last morning in Villa Sandino was more than interesting. A lot was said and a lot was not. I’ll write about it tomorrow, as Saturday and Sunday are off so I will spread the information a little (and I kind of have to go now).

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