Here in Rio Dulce we have got to meet some amazing people that have shared their stories and culture with us. Yesterday (July 14) we got chance to meet Rogelio in Livingston who is part of the Garifuna culture. The Garifunas are a group of people that live in Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and even in some places in the USA. Some of these places include New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. We learned about how the Garifunas use natural remedies to treat illness and rarely ever use pills. One of the coolest things I learned about the Garifunas is how they believe in slowing down. They believe that when your sick it’s your bodies way of telling you to slow down and relax. Rogelio also told us that they believe in 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of fun. This is so that the body has time to rest and you have time to relax and enjoy yourself.
After hearing about the Garifuna culture and history I realized how unique they were compared to the Mayas who we have been learning about too. One of the biggest differences I saw was that the Garifuna were never enslaved while the Mayas were. This was mainly because the Mayas were conquered by the Spaniards while the Garifuna were never conquered. This was interesting because in school we only hear about the Mayas and how they were conquered, but we never get to hear a happy story about triumph like the Garifina’s story.
After learning about the history of the Garifuna we got the once in a lifetime opportunity to go into a ceremonial spot where family ceremonies took place. Since it’s a religious spot no outsiders were able to come but we got the chance to. After talking about the space and giving us the information he could we had to go into a seperate room and leave all our belongings behind. In this room were 3 chairs and in front of them was a table with candles and pictures of religious figures. Even though it was a very tranquil experience I still felt like an outsider and that I was intruding into a space that I didn’t belong in.
Throughout this experience I was grateful that we got to go to Livingston and meet Rogelio. Rogelio was very open and loved to answer any questions we had. There were some things he couldn’t tell us but that was because it was sacred and part of a ceremony. Before coming to Guatemala I had never heard of the Garifunas and now I’m happy that I got the opportunity to meet Rogelio. If you ever get the chance to meet someone who is Garifuna I highly suggest that you meet them.