Weekly Photo Challenge: Distorted

dis·tort·ed   [dih-stawr-tid]

1. Not truly or completely representing the facts or reality; misrepresented.
2. Twisted; deformed; misshapen.
3. Mentally or morally twisted.

Photo above taken outside of Cusco, Peru at a tourist site of ancient Incan ruins.  November 2001. 

When ever I travel I try my best to blend into the culture in which I am visiting.   I am a guest in their country and I do my best to avoid touristy situations or traps.  I try as much as possible to learn about and honor the culture in which I am fortunate enough to be experiencing.  This wasn’t how I used to travel.  It took some years and maturity for me to figure it out.  But the important thing is that it is how I choose to travel now.

When I paged through my photo albums for something that would illustrate the idea “distorted” my eyes fell upon this one pictured above.  It is a real picture that was not staged.  I just happened to be there at the right time and click I got the shot.

What makes me feel this picture is distorted is how the children are being used as a way to get money.  You can take their picture with all their native dress on, throw in a lama and parrot (who happen to be the only ones looking at the camera in this case!), all for just the cost of a candy bar or less.

The parents were no where in sight.  It bothered me.  Shouldn’t these children have been in school?  It was the middle of the day during the week and there they were being used as pawns for money.  I paid them.  I look back now over ten years later and believe that I probably wouldn’t have done so today.  I would have given them a school pen or a notebook….something besides posing for a silly picture for tourists to earn their keep.

As a frequent traveler I realize that child labor is a real part of life in many third-world countries.  Parents depend on their children to help make ends meet and feed the family.  Yet wouldn’t these children be better able to help their family by going to school?  In a country in which over 34% of its people live below the poverty line, shouldn’t the kids be getting an education so they can move up the ladder and escape extreme poverty?

This sad scenario which is illustrated throughout the world is my interpretation of distorted. Now it is up to us to change it.


  1. It depends on just how urgent and immediate the need is, I suppose. Some cultures have a hard time investing in something that won’t way off for 10 years, if they have to eat now. I have no idea what this situation was.

    • Yes that is indeed true. I don’t know what these kids situation was at the time but food is better in the long run. Thanks as always for keeping me thinking and on my toes! 🙂


  3. Nate

    I try my utmost to avoid them as well. The only problem is that some of the most historical sites are surrounded by these traps. Sifting through the offers to guide you through and giving a hundred “No Thank You’s” just to step foot inside. I want to help but I also want to have a sense of self discovery. Great pic and post, thanks.

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