|Indigenous women were washing clothes|
in the stream, but declined to be photographed.
These young men were delighted to have themselves
photographed swimming in their underwear.
On the tour in January, Arnulfo took us up one of the stream valleys, where Chamulan people squat on the land in what is supposed to be a bioreserva. It belongs to some government entity that either does not care or doesn't have the resources to move the people to a different location. 1100 years ago the Mayan civilization throughout Mexico, Guatemala and Belize collapsed. There were a lot of reasons, not the least of which was overpopulation and the inability to grow enough food. The indigenous population has been increasing rapidly during the last few decades. The villages expel anyone who doesn't follow the rules, one of which is adherence and loyalty to the village's religion. With the influx of Protestant missionaries, many families have converted and been kicked out. They go where they can find a small plot of land to farm and build a small house. They have no mortgage and few ways to make money. Their farms provide subsistence living. The women are engaged in various crafts and embroidery, or they wander about town loaded down with cheap rebozos from India, selling them to tourists. Their children are typically not in school as evidenced by the sheer number out in the streets selling animalitos, candy, gum, and shoe shines.
|Graphic sign, pretty self-explanatory,|
especially the last one!!
I went with him and four other women, around my age, up the stream valley I'd seen many times from the Guadalupe church overlook. We climbed up and over a little hill that had some nice views. The river runs wide, shallow and cold at the bottom, but near the top of the valley, the water gushes over large boulders and fallen logs. The forest is gouged with limestone quarries, some still being worked. We climbed up to a small cave still used for religious ceremonies. The ceiling was black from years of smoke. Chunks of copal incense were scattered on the floor along with many small red seeds and dried up pine boughs.
|Guadalupe church hill with fields below|
We walked back on the road. It was a whole different scene. Men with big trucks were loading up chunks of limestone from the quarry. A giant motorhome full of Aussies was camped by the river along with several backpackers they'd picked up along the way. That side of the river was full of trash, wine bottles, and discarded clothing.
Obviously they hadn't understood the sign.
|The caretaker and Cuahtemoc|
|Hiking back on the road|