Tracking in one of the little mini-vans that ply the very few routes that chicken buses don’t -or do- but supplement or complement them anyway, I headed further and deeper into the Guatemalan highlands to the Ixil Triangle – all the way to Chajul where the folk speak their traditional Mayan tongue, Ixil, and I had myself a hard time even finding a Spanish speaker; children calling out to me, lone foreigner in town – hola, adios, but staring at me with blank faces if I tried to pursue further in the Castilian patois.

After walking ‘round and ‘round the pueblo I sat down in the town square –el parque central- to rest a while and read and first two Mayan boys came and kept me company and then more and more of them until I counted more than ten.  They came and they came, swarmed around me like flies to a rotting carcass; shoe-shine boys and snotty-nosed boys and we talked a little and I showed them a map of the world that I had and pointed out Guatemala and my country –Australia and talked of this and that but they didn’t care much, mainly they just wanted to be there, close by to me: the novelty of the day.

Mayan boys

Finally they left to resume their games and I was left to contemplate what had been another yonder beyond but now encircled me.  Engulfed in the Modern Mayan highland world a kaleidoscope of images flickered in the annals of my mind;

what appeared upon first glance to be some kind of bindlestiff but was in fact a diminutive and aged gent hunch-backed by the burden of and dwarfed by the largeness of the aggregate of sheaves of maize weighing down on his spine, but maize is life, and so deified and thinking of all the times he must have hauled I could but humbly be filled with complete admiration.


the swirl and twirl of colours of so many folk, in their traditional and everyday ‘trajes’, who’d come down from their little, dirt floor homes in the hills and in fact they’d been bussed in from villages surrounding as well. They streamed out of the town hall into the streets after hearing the recently-divorced wife of the president talk to them about how she could and would improve their lives and so they smiled with the hope and energy instilled in them.

post rally

bath time in the yard, scratching in the dirt – the simple life.  Mayan language sliding off tongues, whirling in the air and curling its way lusciously into my eardrums, penetrating my cranium sans comprehension to lie in waiting to infiltrate my dreams.

Peter W Davies

2 thoughts on “MAYAN TIMES

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