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Guatemala & Mexico – Spring 2007

Journal 3 – February 11, 2007

This past weekend we journeyed to Chichicastenango, a market town in the highlands. On Saturday we visited Chontolá, a place hit very hard by the violence during Guatemala’s civil war (1980’s). The military massacred many villagers, trying to crush any resistance.

Chantolá, as well as Chichicastenango is a community of indigenous people, descendants of the Mayans, who have formed a cooperative selling textile products. During our few hours in Chontolá, we had a chance to admire their handiwork, and taste their delicious cooking. Many from our group bought bags, scarfs, skirts and other hand-woven things.

Over 50% of Guatemala’s population is indigenous, much higher than any other Central American country. Now that I understand a decent amount of Spanish, I’m amazed at how different the other languages sound. I suppose it makes sense. The languages aren’t at all related because they existed long before the Spanish arrived.

In my host family’s house there is a wall hanging that says ( en espanol por supuesto). “Lord, grant me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I’d heard this prayer before, but I feel that in the United States, it meant very little to me in comparison to the weight it carries here in Guatemala, a country with such a tumultuous history. I think of the widow in Chontolá, and the many stories we have heard of repression, killings and disappearances, not only involving the indigenous people, but teachers, doctors, university students, and others in the wrong place at the wrong time. It makes me thankful for what I have. I have all my family members. I have security back in the United States.

Since 96’ Guatemala has had peace, but it seems justice (retributive, economic, and otherwise) has been forgotten

- Peter Lehman