ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
The young adults of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico are navigating a thin line between hope and hopelessness. They strive to leave the poverty and inequality that faces their society, yet are constantly exposed to a barrage of wealth with the influx of tourism and American expatriates. For these young people, engaging in formal employment will never allow them access to the lifestyles they see. Often they are consumed by their own ambitions and desires. Some make it out. Others are attracted to overindulgence and escapism, seeking easy money and brotherhood through gangs and cartels.
On good nights in San Miguel de Allende the air is heady with laughter, music, lights, parties. Worries drown in the overwhelming beats of the clubs, flashing strobes, energizing and uplifting drugs.
Some nights the darkness is too deep to escape.
Teeth grind and shatter as the devils haunt their dreams.
The lives that were taken by force return on these nights.
The sweet song of the drug cartels sounded good once.
Money, wealth, power, friends.
even the gun
can’t save you from the dark.
The night is all-consuming.
This essay was photographed from 2012 -2013 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It captures the experiences of a number of different young adults ages 19-28. I prefer not to share their names for their own privacy and safety and so not to implicate all of them in the same deeds and experiences. I see this piece as a document that describes a lifestyle not so far from many American young adults, and yet with much more dangerous choices. I would like people to understand more about the difficult decisions that young people are faced with, while still maintaining hope for the future. There are no captions for added anonymity of people and places.
Claire Harbage (b. 1986) is a visual storyteller. She currently works as a teaching assistant at Maine Media Workshops in the summer and an Adjunct Instructor at Ohio University’s Department of Visual Communication during the year. She recently attended the New York Portfolio review in April 2014. She was awarded a number of fellowships at Ohio University while completing her dual MA in Photography and African Studies for studying the Wolof language of West Africa. The university also funded her field work for upcoming multimedia project Dakar: Rap-city which is still in progress. Claire plays the banjo poorly and wishes she was more musically talented.