This is the public market in El Valle, and these two young boys are manning the family booth selling beaded jewelry and mementos of Panama, like the coffee cup. Their mother had a booth with higher end items just across the aisle. January is school vacation, which I imagine is why the boys are working. January through March is also peak tourist season, when I’m sure the family can use the extra labor.
Since I was in Panama in the late 1960’s, I’ve observed the key role children play in family financial fortunes. Minga left ten year old Rufina in charge of her four smaller brothers and sisters — including infant Ita — while Minga walked around the village and sold chances in a knock-off on the national lottery. Results came over the radio every afternoon. You could buy into Minga’s lottery for a nickel, as I recall. She raised about a dollar, and split the pot with the winner 50-50. When she and Roberto lived on a few dollars a day, that 50 cents was important.
These boys are in the family business, one might say, under the watchful eye of their mother. They were elated to see their photo on Bob’s digital camera.