We arrived to Santa Avelina after a twelve hour bus drive through the mountains. It is such a beautiful little village with the most wonderful people. The people here are Ixil Mayan and many of the older people don’t speak any Spanish at all! I was not expecting that at all. All of the houses are very simple buildings of just concrete block walls with tin roofs. The whole village was built for indigenous refugees not long after the Civil War ended here in Guatemala. I wish so badly that we had an Ixil translator with us so I could hear stories from the oldest residents here. What’s most interesting is that only the women here wear the traditional clothes that I’ve seen in books and on TV. They wear very brightly colored huipiles and skirts. How beautiful they all are!
While here we are going to help them learn how to sanitize their drinking water, help put concrete floors down in their homes and also build stoves for them. You see, many of them still use the small stone fire pit that they have used for hundreds and hundreds of years. These pits are in the center of their homes and many children can get hurt. Not only that, they also fill the homes with smoke and many people here have breathing problems. Everyone has been so kind and generous with all of us. They offer us warm tortillas and tamales that they make fresh just for us. It’s so amazing to think that I am around people who still wear the same clothes and eat the same food as before the Spaniards even arrived here! I can already tell I am going to grow and learn so much while here!