I know I’ve shared photographs of Todos Santos Cuchumatan.
Archive for the ‘Huehuetenango’ Category
The Horse Race that is not a race!
Want to know more about this Todos Santos Cuchumatán tradition?
Todos Santos Cuchumatán, a town of proud people who value their ancient traditions.
Chaces favor the prepared mind.
At the precise moment I arrived to town, a parade of tomorrow’s riders was entering the town.
I know I’ve been absent/slacking for too long. But this weekend I’m taking a trip to Todos Santos Cuchumatán, a lovely town where the inhabitants still practice ancient Mayan traditions.
I’ll have lots of photographs to share during the trip. Stay tuned.
This dialog was held in Spanish. A lot of the feeling, the pain and sorrow is lost in my translation.
The first time I saw my distant cousin was more than 16 years ago. They lived on a remote, poor farmers community in the province of Huehuetenango, their settlement was very near the Mexican border.
When I met them, we were looking for my aunt. She, at the moment, was not living with them. She was living in Sayaxche Peten. After a couple of days at this humble community, one of my distant cousins volunteers to take us to my aunt’s place in Sayaxche. Getting there on the Guatemala side was very difficult. My cousin tells us is better to cross to the Mexican side (illegally of course) and move faster by bus there. And then, cross back to the Guatemalan side.
16 years later I get to see my cousin once again. Now he lives in Sayaxche, Peten.
After a couple of days of staying at his house, I took him for some beers at a local Tienda (small convenience store).
He did not drink much. I remember him having a glass or two.
Eli of course will have this classic Guatemalan pairing: Cerveza, Limon, Chicharrones (beer, lime and fried porkskins).
We spend the entire evening talking and talking. He tells me about his time living in Huehuetenango. Some of that misery I did witness when we visited them there.
My cousins were children when the war reached their community. We used to crawl under the tables when we were bombed by the army, he tells me. His eyes are watering.
We were not guerrillas, we had nothing to do with the war, but they were just bombing all the time.
One day we could see smoke coming from a neighboring village. The next day another village was up in flames. Some had survived the slaughter and came to our village seeking refuge. He told us the army was burning everything. “Hicieron matazones” They killed many he tells them.
People at my cousin’s village were not afraid. We had nothing to do with the war, so nothing should happen to us they believed.
A couple of days later another village close by was massacred and burnt to the ground, erase from this Earth.
We are next we were thinking. Horrible accounts were coming from these scorched villages.
A military vanguard arrives and the elders of the village are quick to go meet them and talk to them.
My cousin goes with the group and listens to the conversation. My cousin almost chokes when he telling me this: “They told us: we should not worry because we are not Indians.” People at this poor community were mestizos, a mix of European and Natives descent. The neighboring communities were mostly Mayan and being Mayan sealed their fate.
After the destruction around, patrols of guerrillas would come to our village and ask if we needed anything. They constantly asked us to join them.
I remember a beautiful guerrilla girl. She always came to me, she really wanted me to join them. She told me: come with us and I’ll be your wife. I was considering doing it but my mother would not let me.
The Pacs were a paramilitary force created by the army to “protect” villages against guerrilla incursions.
My cousins relatives were forced into joining them Pacs.
One day my cousin’s brother –just a child- was playing with another child. He takes (steals) a toy from that child and the child goes complaining to his older brother; a member of the PACS. He takes his riffle and shoots my cousin’s brother.
The entire family could not do anything because saying something about the PACS would render you a guerrilla, a communist. For many years this painful memories were kept locked down. Only told after the war, after things were safe and they had moved out of Huehuetenango.
Mujeres, todas somos lo que llevamos dentro. Sin críticas, ni discriminaciones. Sin juicios, ni reclamos. Somos pureza y sentimiento. Somos pasión, batalla, conquista y seducción. Somos lo que cada una llevamos dentro.
Women, we all are what we have inside. No criticisms. No discrimination. No judgements. No reclaims. We all are purity and emotion. We all are passion, battle, victory and seduction. We all are what we have inside.
Photograph and Text by Sophia Piral
Here’s a typical view of the altiplano guatemalteco, Guatemalan highlands, taken somewhere between Huehuetenango and Cuatro Caminos, Totonicapán. I need to take a photographic trip through the highlands; I will soon, I’ll put it on my to do list.
What other photos or places would you like to add to my to-do list?
The President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina in the Summit of the Americas said:
“Diálogo fue la palabra que salvó a Centro América de conflictos internos y guerras civiles hace dos décadas. Gracias al diálogo descubrimos que podíamos comer a una misma mesa, e incluso de un mismo plato, sin matarnos, sin agredirnos, sin hacernos daño entre hermanos. Yo fui un soldado entrenado para ganar batallas, pero la batalla más importante que he ganado en mi vida fue la batalla por la paz en mi país, Guatemala.”
“Dialogue saved Central America from internal conflicts and civil war two decades ago. Through dialogue we discovered we could eat at the same table, and even from the same plate without killing or attacking us, withouth hurting each other. I was a soldier trained to win battles, but the most important battle I have won in my life was the battle for peace in my country, Guatemala.”
Yesterday indigenous communities from Totonicapán blocked the road to protest the rising price of electricity and discuss their objections to education reforms in a peaceful way but military forces violently tried to removed them causing a chaos that left people killed and injured. I can’t help but wonder where is the dialogue there? -Myrna Hernández
Photograph taken in Huehuetango by Sophia Piral.
Los cuchumatanes – Panorámica by imarigorta.
The roads on the Los Cuchumatanes, Huehuetenango, Guatemala can at times be above the clouds. This photo was taken near Páquix, Huehuetenango.
Even though Guatemala is located in the tropics, most of people actually live on the highlands, Altiplano as we call the high lands here, thus enjoy of temperate weather most of the time, except in places so high up like in Los Cuchumatanes, where you can expect very cold and freezing temperature.
Have you visited Los Cuchumatanes in any of your trips? If the answer is no, why now pay a visit this wonderfully remote part of the Guatemalan landscape.