Don Charly, describes himself as a dreamer and a romantic at 72 years old. He is a native of Mexico City and has been working all his life in the famous Lagunilla market.
Don Charly, describes himself as a dreamer and a romantic at 72 years old. He is a native of Mexico City and has been working all his life in the famous Lagunilla market.

Carlos Antonio Hernandez Fernandez, known among his friends as “Don Charly,” describes himself as a dreamer and a romantic at 72 years old.

His life has been an adventure since the age of six when he began working in the famous neighborhood of La Lagunilla in Mexico City alongside his father. To this day, he continues to work, selling dresses and suits in one of the many markets, alongside his younger brother Eduardo. Don Charly is a bohemian at heart. He candidly speaks of his inner demons, which he seeks to conquer—a human with flaws and virtues, but one who never stops fighting.

He now looks to the past, as many do, while simultaneously confronting his present. He shares stories of his conquests and past relationships, as well as the love of his life whom he had to let go. He mentions that he once had money and lost almost all of it, and he practices martial arts.

Currently, the bank wants to take his apartment. "But in spite of everything, I rise from the ashes," he says, likening himself to a phoenix. Don Charly always maintains a positive attitude, refusing to dwell on his mistakes, and he acknowledges that he made choices based on the circumstances at the time. One of his most significant life lessons came from raising his daughter as a single parent from a young age. As he shows me her albums, we find a letter she wrote for school as a child: “My dad is great, because he plays the role of mom and dad, he brings me lunch in the morning, he always takes me to school and when he picks me up there are times when my dad arrives tired. My dad has brown eyes and his hair is white with black. He is 51 years old, he works in La Lagunilla and sells dresses, and he is paying for the house with a lot of effort and I will always support him. With all my love.”

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How does it feel to be 72?

"Now, at 72 years old, I feel very well because my health is above average for my age, and I can perform in any job or trade. I know a lot because my father educated me well. I did not graduate; I continued studying but did not graduate, but to be honest, I learned a lot. I feel grateful to life for having a daughter and a son-in-law and also for having a lot of problems on top of that because they challenge me to continue surviving."

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What do you look forward to?

"First of all, I would like to continue seeing my daughter and son-in-law, and I would like to meet my grandchildren one day.   I also hope to have a partner. It is a nice yearning because now that I have matured, I have the capacity to give the best of me. I mean, at 72 even with the few ailments I have, I talked to a doctor, and he told me that there are people now living well up to 80 and 90 years old."

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What is your biggest concern?

"My biggest fear is to avoid losing my home. Why? Because I no longer have a van that I could convert into a living space with a sofa and live there. That was my plan, but I couldn't execute it properly. I was certain about it, and I even had the ideal van to create a spacious living area that didn't consume much gas, a semi-new Ford."

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Life expectancy 2023

75.04
years
Mexico

About the photographer

Alejandra Rajal

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Alejandra Rajal is a photographer based in Mexico. Her work focuses on trying to understand how humans connect with the world we live in. Her stories focus on climate change, drugs, gender, religion and violence.

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