don carlos, a portrait

June 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

“que barbaro” says don carlos in a sort of half-chuckle. he’s hosing down the pigsties as i capture him yet again on camera. it’s difficult not to photograph him. he’s so damn photogenic and interesting. a part of the mystique might have to do with my near inability to understand half of what he says. his voice has a well-worn, guttural quality about; it sounds cool but lends itself to incomprehensibility. he also doesn’t exactly speak grammatically correct. i know this because his daughters often correct his speech with a ruthless sharpness that sons and daughters seem to especially reserve for their parents.

let’s try to humanize the myth of the man.

from what i’m told, he’s had little to no formal education. in fact, he doesn’t know how to read or write, which is a bit of a shame because the time i’ve spent around him clearly suggests that he’s very intelligent. he’s the type of man, perhaps like your father or uncle or grandfather, who refuses to write anything down on paper because he insists his memory is iron clad (and it more or less is).

the story of his life could be read on his clothes and his hands. it’s a hard life of endless work. he wakes everyday by 5am to build homes and returns to work several more hours on the farm. washing does very little to change the appearance of his work clothes and at this point, the dirt of the earth is a part of him, nestled into the cracks and crevices of his rough hands. he’s not an imposing figure, standing somewhere around 5’7″, but he’s strong. years tilling the land and constructing  houses demands it of you.

i’ve wanted to work on a farm for a long time, and i’ve had a taste of it. it isn’t easy, never pretty, but it feels honest and satisfying. and maybe now  i understand a little better the image of tired don carlos sitting on the couch with a beer in hand.

“quieres cafe?” i ask him.
“no gracias. este es mejor” he responds, holding up the bottle of imperial with a smirk.
yes. yes it is.


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