Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Jorge Dan Lopez
Lately, I’ve begun to think about death in a different way. Maybe it has something to do with taking photographs at the central cemetery every day for the last four months. It has become part of my daily routine, like getting up in the morning and brushing my teeth. Sometimes when I go, I don’t even take a picture, I just listen to the workers or enjoy the cemetery’s own sounds.
The other day it became quite cold during the night, temperatures dropped more than ten degrees Celsius and continued to descend. It was the coldest night of the year so far and while I was sitting at the cemetery, I thought I should take some photos about the cold weather. It was a frivolous thought, especially when I heard a little later that a person had died of hypothermia. I received the tip from a firefighter about the first dead person to have died due to the cold weather.
The body was found in the conflicted neighborhood Zona 18. It has been practically militarized by the Fuerza de Tarea Maya, a joint force made up of soldiers and police officers.
When I arrived in the Zona 18, everything was confusing and nobody really knew what was going on. Streets have no names in that area and people were giving out the wrong directions. After almost an hour of searching, I decided to leave. Suddenly I saw two people standing in a field.
They were firefighters. I approached them and without asking, they immediately told me about the body of a man they had found underneath a staircase. The man had made a home of this small, dark space under the stairs and that’s where he died of exposure during the night.