Pigtails on the pillow, guacamayas overhead
Tortillas in her tummy, chickens under her bed
The jaguar hunching quietly, the wild boar grunting loud
Men hunting doe and fawn
Women weaving from dusk ’til dawn…
Maya history in dyed wool.
The Central American country of Guatemala has been called the “Waist of the Americas” because of it’s location in the continent. It’s fantastic topography varies from flatlands to jutting volcanoes (37 in all, 3 of which are active), from deserts to dense jungles.
Tucked under the canopy of one of these jungles we find the Maya ruins of Tikal, considered one of, if not the most, impressive and important architectural find related to the Mayan culture. This once affluent metropolis was also called the “Manhattan of the Maya” and “the cradle of Maya civilization” due to the sophistication of its temples, buildings and layout.
The Maya people have not disappeared. In Guatemala, they are very much alive and thriving, maintaining the majority of their traditions.
The millenial and colorful Mayan tradition of weaving and embroidery can still be seen in hand-woven hüipiles (women’s blouses) and perrajes (shoulder wraps). These pieces are carefully designed and skillfully decorated. It may take anywhere from 4-6 months to finish one of these garments so they are usually not intended for sale and when they are, they can cost (and are well-worth) $100-$300 depending on the size and the region they are from.
So much of a culture is reflected in the food that people eat. In the case of the Maya, it is no different. There is as much variety in their food as there is in their environment. Corn tortillas, black beans, and a wide variety of hot peppers can be found in every region of the country and in a variety of recipes that have stood the test of time and are longed for by those who have emigrated to other countries.
Growing up as a third-culture kid in Guatemala, I was surrounded by all of these wonders every day of my life. Thanks to my parents’ work amongst many of the Maya tribes, I was able to visit many corners of the jungle villages, taste their food and sleep in their huts.
It is now time to share all of my experiences past and present, with the world!
I’m glad you are here and I hope you can enjoy this journey with me!
Photo Credits: Lucy Trotzke Bags & More https://www.facebook.com/LucyTrotzke/,
Milton War Photography ®, Luis Roberto Aragón, Priscila Cebeira. All Rights Reserved®.