Rough Road to Paradise
I promise you I am not making this story up. This hot, dusty, crowded bus ride is a reality that all the villagers in Todos Santos have to face every time they need to go to town to work or to go to the market. Believe it or not, the reality gets even worse. You see, the people who run the buses are ladinos (of Spanish descent), and the villagers who ride them are Mayan Indians. The bus drivers and ticket collectors treat the villagers as second-class citizens, crowding them into the bus and yelling at them to move to the back.
As the bus slowly wound around corners, it stopped to pick up more Mayan workers, who were heading home after a long day in the fields. I thought that surely some people would be let off the bus before more could get on, but I was wrong. More people piled in and filled the aisles, pressing up against each other like sardines. Many of the workers were teenage boys and girls carrying their younger siblings on their backs. I wanted to take a picture, but I couldn't possibly move my arms enough to get my camera out.
Even though the ticket collectors were mean to them, and even though they were tired and crammed into such a tiny space, the Mayans still managed to be kind and caring to each other. Imagine, rush hour in the fields of Guatemala and no one was yelling! Despite these miserable bus conditions, I could tell from the beautiful scenery and these beautiful people that arriving at Todos Santos would be well worth the journey.
When we finally reached our destination, we found a beautiful small pueblo (village) surrounded on all sides by the Cuchumatanes, the highest mountains in Central America. Todos Santos is one of the few villages left where people still remember and observe the traditional Mayan calendar. The people of Todos Santos speak Mam, their original Mayan dialect. At school, the younger generation is starting to learn Spanish as well. The people of the village look brilliant in their brightly colored traditional clothing.
Check out Part 2 of this article to get more information on my new home and family: Todos Santos Part 2: Finding a Home Away From Home.
Shawn - Uncovering the Riches of Todos Santos
Abeja - The Flourishing Quiche Culture
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