The small town of Zunil

The small town of Zunil, in Quetzaltenango, embodies the multiple and complicated ways in which migration can impact a place. The architecture has changed dramatically over the years with the influx of remittances. Families have been divided. Some people leave and some come back, like the guy we saw with a pickup truck–the only one in town we were told.

But perhaps the most striking ways in which migration impact lives, is how it permeates the most intimate and mundane artifacts in people’s lives. Miguel (on the right) migrated to the U.S. 16 years ago. He left his wife and recently-born baby behind, in western Guatemala, where for decades thousands of people have migrated North. The family hasn’t seen each other since, but Miguel photoshopped himself in a portrait of his wife Juana and son Alejandro and sent it back to the family. Migration has its ways into family dynamics and structures, but also into the most ordinary details like family portraits.

-Andrea Patiño Contreras