. Antonio C. Ixtamer
. By Benjamin D. Paul & Joseph Johnston
. Up ] Healer ] Curandero ] Operation of a Death Squad ] Operaciones de una Esquadron de Muerte ] Village Life ] Vida de un Pueblo ] Sibling Rivalry ] Rivalidad entre Hermanos ] Calendar Round ] Long Count 2012 ] [ Edgar's Story ] Anthropolgist & Weaver ] Ixtamer ] Ixtamer Español ] Lorenzo ] Lorenzo Español ] Mariano & Matias ] Mariano & Matias Español ] Mario ] Pedro Rafael ] Pedro Rafael Español ] Victor Vasquez ] Victor Vasquez Español ]
  The story of several generations of a Maya  family whose simple life was in harmony with the peace of the time.
  San Antonio Aguas Calientes was a small-undeveloped Mayan town in a third world country, settled between mountains and the Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego volcanoes, located to the southwest of Guatemala City. The streets were not paved; most of them very narrow and in bad condition, especially during the rainy season. The houses had fences made of cornstalk, or chichicaste (a very harmful, prickly plant). Very few families had houses built with adobe and stones. The town had no electricity; therefore, people had to use candles and consequently had to go to bed early. The most important building in town was the colonial Catholic Church, which was built around 1500 by the Spanish missionaries, who then were in their summit trying to convert the people to the Christian doctrine.
  San Antonio, like many other Mayan towns, had its own language, customs, and some of the most outstanding textiles in Guatemala made by hand with great skill. San Antonio's textiles are easy to distinguish among the other towns for their beauty and intricate designs. The older ones are geometric, but since the 1950s, floral designs have become very popular. A special technique perfected by these weavers is known as double-faced supplementary weft brocading: the design appears the same on both sides.
  In the early 1900's, the inhabitants used horses as a way of transportation for their merchandise, but often they went on foot, perhaps because there were not many horses available, or they did not have enough money to pay for the service. Besides the loads on the horses, the men carried loads on their backs and the women on their heads. They used to take their merchandise to the market, which was located in Antigua, the biggest town and the capital of the department of Sacatepéquez. It was once the capital of the Central American isthmus, when the Spanish ruled the area. Sacatepéquez is predominantly indigenous. Languages spoken are Kaqchikel (Mayan) and Spanish, which is the official language of the country.
  The Mayan inhabitants of San Antonio worked on the farms growing corn and beans, the most important crops for consumption. For cash crops, they grew carrots, potatoes, coffee, oranges, and other vegetables. At that time, almost every single family had at least a small plot to live on. The ones who did not have enough land worked for the richest families in the community, the ones who had many properties, not only in San Antonio, but in several different towns nearby. Most of the families were large, five or six children approximately.
  In 1912, a baby girl was born into one of the families of the little town, who was baptized a few weeks later with the name of Vicenta Lopez. In early childhood, she lost both parents. Her grandparents took care of her until her adolescence. Since the grandparents had land to work, they took Vicenta with them to the countryside almost every day. When she was eight years old, her grandparents sent her to the public school, which was one of the two schools at that time; the other one was the Nima ya, a school run by a Protestant Missionary. A few years later, the Hermano Pedro School was established for the Catholic parish of San Antonio, perhaps to counteract the influence of the Protestant school among the population. Vicenta, who only spoke Kaqchikel, didn't understand Spanish. Having many difficulties understanding Spanish, she wanted to quit school. Her grandparents encouraged her to continue, but they could not do very much to help her because they didn't speak Spanish either. After a few weeks at school, Vicenta gave up. In all her life, she attended school less than two months. She did not learn how to write or to read. However, she learned to understand Spanish with much difficulty.
  Vicenta's life became only work after dropping out of school. At the beginning, her grandparents taught her how to work the land and many other activities related to the job. Day after day, her grandmother taught her how to weave; however, she worked more on the farmlands.
  Sometimes, Vicenta was taken by her grandparents to Quinizalapa Lake for fishing and hunting ducks. Quinizalapa Lake was located in the southwest part of the town. At that time, the lake was a tourist attraction, especially on weekends. The villagers were proud of Quinizalapa; especially the day the President of the country visited the lake. It was a holiday for everybody in town. The mayor of San Antonio and the governor of the district were among the hosts, who welcomed Mr. President. Mayors in little towns did not have a salary during those days, but still it was an honor to be the mayor. That day at the shore of the lake a chicken stew, pepian, was served for lunch, and some kind of rum. The streets of town, which led to the lake, were decorated with papers of different colors. Firecrackers were burned to announce the president's presence in town, and a marimba band also played.
  Vicenta often left home without her grandparents' permission to go to the lake with friends. For doing that, Vicenta was scolded by her grandmother. She and her friends, however, liked to fish, so she took the risk of being scolded or whipped by her grandmother. Unfortunately, the lake was a health menace. Many people died because of the yellow-fever epidemic. Around l930, the villagers, with the support of a government institution, drained the lake, diverting the natural springs into the Nima ya river. The Nima ya used to be a small stream where children learn to swim. During the rainy season, it overflowed and flooded a large area of town. As years elapsed, farmers started using the Nima ya river for irrigation, and, consequently, the natural spring disappeared.
  When Vicenta reached her adolescence, she became a bit more independent of her grandparents regarding work. She got more time for weaving but still predominantly worked in the fields. Barefoot people like Vicenta developed calluses on the bottoms of their feet and the palms of their hands. Walking several miles every day without sandals was very common. Most of the time, Vicenta and her grandparents left home early in the morning and returned when night's darkness arrived. Years later, Vicenta learned from her grandparents that she had one brother younger than her and one sister also younger. The three of them had the same father but different mothers. Vicenta's sister lived in San Antonio, and her brother lived in a small hamlet approximately twenty miles away from town.
  In 1930, Vicenta married a young man whose name was Calixto Godinez. He belonged to one of the middle class families. Calixto was bad tempered, and it became worse when he was drunk. Besides that, Vicenta had a strong personality. Their life was not very peaceful. Even so, in the course of the years, they had six children, and two died when they were babies. The surviving children were: Candelaria, who was born in 1930; Cristina, who was born in 1931; Manuel, the only son, who was born in 1932; and Rafaela, who was born in 1939. Calixto eventually inherited several pieces of land from his parents. A few years later, Vicenta's grandparents died, but she did not receive an inheritance. For one reason or another, Calixto sold most of his properties. He only held onto the one on which they were living.
  One day, Candelaria, the oldest daughter of Vicenta and Calixto, married Manuel Guaran, the youngest son of the richest family in town. Since Manuel was the youngest boy and his other brothers were already married, it was a big wedding celebration. The Guaran family was well known and respected in little San Antonio. They had many compadres, godsons, and goddaughters. One of the best marimba bands played during the wedding party. Many people were invited to the party, which took place at the Guaran family's house. One day before the wedding took place, the Godinez family had their own celebration at home with a few of their friends and family. The day of the wedding, the Godinez family and friends joined the Guaran family to celebrate the event. The newly married couple lived in comfort with Manuel's parents, sharing the same house, and running his parents' business. Manuel's brothers lived in their own inherited houses, and they also were handling the family's assets. One day, Manuel's father got sick, and he was taken to the doctor who prescribed many kinds of medicine. As he aged, he got worse. Manuel and Candelaria took care of him assisting him with all his needs.
  A few years later, Cristina, the second daughter of Vicenta and Calixto, got married to Miguel, who lived in San Andrés Ceballos, a small hamlet of San Antonio. Miguel's parents did not want him to marry Cristina, because she belonged to a family without properties. From the beginning, the relationship between Cristina and her parents-in-law was not good. A few months later, Cristina and Miguel started arguing, and year after year, their matrimonial relationship became worse. Even though they were only about a twenty-minute walk from Cristina, Vicenta and her youngest daughter Rafaela visited about once every two months. Later, it was only about twice a year. From time to time, Cristina visited her parents when her husband was not home.
  Cristina's husband and parents-in-law thought that Vicenta, due to her lower economic situation, visited her daughter because of food or to ask for money. To help alleviate those concerns, Vicenta used to have Rafaela bring her sister Cristina some food during the fiesta of the Dulce Nombre de Jesus in January, and in June for the fiesta of Saint Anthony of Padua, who is the patron saint of the town. Bringing food to the closest family and friends is a tradition among Catholic families during those two celebrations, and is usually reciprocal. Rafaela would bring tamales and chuchitos" two kinds of food made with corn, tomato, and pork or chicken, which are cooked in different ways and taste differently.
  The relationship among the Godinez family and Candelaria's parents-in-law was not good either, but their visits were more frequent, especially for Vicenta and Rafaela, who used to assist Candelaria with her three children. One day, Candelaria's mother-in-law died. The father of the family was also sick, and he became worse after his wife's death. A few months later, just before he died, he gave gifts to his four sons. Each one of them got some properties as their inheritance.
  After their father's funeral, the four sons tried to take what they could from their father's other belongings, which were the biggest grocery store in town and a cantina, a rustic bar and the only one in town, even though they already had received their own inheritances. One of them took most of the merchandise and opened his grocery store. Manuel, the youngest, kept some merchandise but not enough to keep running the business. Years later, Manuel sold some properties to relieve his economic problems, but selling his properties did not help him much. Manuel Guaran's life turned drastically into poverty, and he had to work hard to feed his seven children.
  Meanwhile, at the Godinez family's home, life was going on in its simple way, as always it has been. Manuel, who was fourteen, and Rafaela, who was eight years old, were working with their parents for Calixto's brother. They received a very low wage, but, in exchange, they were able to collect wood for cooking and some edible wild herbs. Manuel was attending school; but, from time to time, he skipped one class or one day to go out with his friends. So his parents sometimes took him to work, to keep him from getting in trouble. On the other hand, Rafaela was attending school for her first year. From time to time, she did not go to school either, as she was helping her parents. Consequently, she was not doing well. Rafaela was sent to school one more year, and that was her last one. Her parents thought she had learned enough, and now it was time to work. At school, she learned how to speak Spanish and some reading and writing.
. Up ] Healer ] Curandero ] Operation of a Death Squad ] Operaciones de una Esquadron de Muerte ] Village Life ] Vida de un Pueblo ] Sibling Rivalry ] Rivalidad entre Hermanos ] Calendar Round ] Long Count 2012 ] [ Edgar's Story ] Anthropolgist & Weaver ] Ixtamer ] Ixtamer Español ] Lorenzo ] Lorenzo Español ] Mariano & Matias ] Mariano & Matias Español ] Mario ] Pedro Rafael ] Pedro Rafael Español ] Victor Vasquez ] Victor Vasquez Español ]

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