Hola from Itza and Brooke. We are writing from San Lucas Tolimán. We arrived at IMAP where we learned about permaculture, the “three sisters” of Central America (corn, beans and squash) and the negative effects of monocultive agriculture. Today, we traveled to a primary forest, of which there are few in Guatemala; we learned that primary forests are in tact and free from human development or interference. Afterwards, we visited an “edible” forest, one where all of the plants and crops being grown coexist and can sustain the food needs of local populations. We had some interesting questions from the students, especially how we can both provide the food we need for survival but also enjoy things that are not native to our particular location (what we need versus what we want). Finally, we heard from a man who has been working for over 40 years on reforestation. In these last few days, we are looking forward to taking a deeper dive into issues of food production, security and sovereignty, and to reflecting on how we can affect change both in our community and beyond.
In addition to the important discussions about the environment, we have also learned about comparative religion and spirituality, especially through the lens of Mayan culture. As part of a tour with Doña Dolores, a Mayan woman that has lived in the US, we visited three cofradías which combine Catholic figures with Mayan spirituality. We learned how people have developed and practiced their religion, and we had the honor of participating in a Mayan prayer ceremony where the female shaman prayed for us, individually and collectively, for hard work in our studies in school and for good fortune.
We have two more days of home stays and then will head back to Antigua, where we will try to process and wrap up the amazing things we have learned on this trip. Check back for updates tomorrow!!