Pablo grew up under miserable conditions in a remote Guatemalan rural area close to the border of El Salvador. His alcoholic father physically and verbally abused him from an early age, as did his raging, abusive mother. Young Pablo was forced to assume responsibilities beyond his years; dropping out of school after the sixth grade, he tilled the land besides his father for four years, under precarious conditions. The little money he made came from selling his grandmother's cheese at the frontier, and at the ...
Pablo grew up under miserable conditions in a remote Guatemalan rural area close to the border of El Salvador. His alcoholic father physically and verbally abused him from an early age, as did his raging, abusive mother. Young Pablo was forced to assume responsibilities beyond his years; dropping out of school after the sixth grade, he tilled the land besides his father for four years, under precarious conditions. The little money he made came from selling his grandmother's cheese at the frontier, and at the train that passed by his birthplace of San Benito.
Somehow he managed to see pictures of the scintillating skyscrapers of New York City, and began to dream that one day he could be there in person. Dreaming kept him afloat and gave him a sense of freedom. Living close to the railroad reinforced his fantasies of one day leaving San Benito to know far away lands. It was only a matter of waiting, and slowly earning the money to fly there one day. These dreams, these possibilities, kept alive by his sense of intuition, gave him joy. "Pedro and I took the train to and from San Benito every other weekend. It was a break from our monotonous life...I enjoyed seeing the landscape and the trees passing by, seeming to fly in the opposite direction- a surrealistic feeling. The cattle and rice fields seemed endless, the ground was green and the fresh breeze hit my face as I looked out of the window during the half hour trip...After la Curva Lodosa, the muddy curve, my house was getting closer. The train swung right and left up and down; the wheels squealed against the rails, and the locomotive whistled with such sadness that my heart was almost bursting from my chest..."
While working with his father during his adolescent years, he would borrow his uncle's white stallion and nearly fly through irregular rocky terrain. The horse was beautiful, strong and agile. During those days he meets Natalia, his first, angelic girlfriend. During his trips to the nearest town of Asuncion Mita on Sundays, riding the horse, he would pass by Natalia's village. Love was platonic and ingenuous. Then, one day, what had been long expected happened: he got a job offer in Guatemala City and began night school. Suddenly his dreams materialized: a scholarship, a move to Washington, D. C. and then on to his long cherished and anticipated New York City.
His professional success was unexpected by all accounts. He got a degree in Foreign Service and a job with Guatemala's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1983, with a scholarship from the Organization of American States, he received his Master's degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University. That opened the door to the international arena. He spent five years with Guatemala's Foreign Service, and in 1997 began work with the UN Peacekeeping Operations in Angola and Guinea Bissau, as a Political Affairs Officer and Public Information and Spokesman. He speaks English, Portuguese and French besides his native Spanish, which has been instrumental in his professional career.
Once in Guatemala he joined an English Writers Group and started translating the work into English. But writing about those painful years was difficult, and it took its toll. Depression became an obstacle, and completion of the book took a back seat to other tasks, including his work with the United Nations in Africa. Only now, after many years' delay, the work is finally being published as "Toil, Fear, Hope (a childhood in Guatemala)".
His story conveys a sense of authenticity and balance, with a fresh, poetic prose. It is a fantastic voyage of transformation, beginning from the austere, impoverished world of a shoeless child, who enjoyed the adventure of swimming through muddy rivers, where he almost drowned while going to school!
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Meet the Author
Autobiography of Francisco Noguera
He was born amidst the vast, violent hardscrabble region, near de Salvadoran and Honduran borders. After the 6th grade of elementary school he was obliged to go back to the countryside and till the land with his father and older brother, under hardship circumstances. When he was seventeen he got a job in Guatemala City and continued going to school during the night. In 1975 he got a job with the ministry of Foreign Affairs and in 1979 he graduated from the Central American International School of Diplomacy. That year he got a contract with the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. In 1983 he got a master's degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University. He has worked for Guatemala's Foreign Service, for the United Nations in Peacekeeping Operations and Political Consolidation in Africa, and for the Mission of Support to the Peace Process of the OAS in Colombia. He resides in La Antigua Guatemala where he writes about themes related to the harsh countryside life in the southeast part of Guatemala.