Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
Just who is this family who had made such an impact on us? Alberto has been the guardian of the hacienda and adjoining property for the past six years. With his wife Juliana and their eight children, they live in a small house on the property, and make sure that everything is ready and prepared for visitors. Alberto is from the local village of Xepéc, and has rarely travelled more than 20 km from home
Juliana was born and raised in Caserio Chuyia, a community just a few km down the hill from Alberto's village, but the local Mayan languages they grew up with are different, so they converse mostly in Spanish. She is only in her mid-thirties but with eight children ranging in age from 2 to 15, and a ninth one rather visibly on the way, she has time for little other than cooking, cleaning and washing the clothes. She is, however, a very strong character, and is the one who generally takes responsibility for ensuring that the children meet all the requirements for school
Eddy Maudilio and Hebert Eduardo, 10 and 8 respectively, really stole our hearts as they frequently came to visit, often accompanied by their gorgeous dog Coyote. Sometimes their sisters Angelica and Otilia Lisette, 11 and 6, would come as well, and they would ask if they could use the colouring books and felt tip pens that we had brought with us. For an hour or more, they would be quietly enthralled with their works of art, and always brought them to show us what they had created. After the colouring was finished, they would turn into normal rambunctious children playing with Coyote, but always polite and very considerate of each other. One afternoon we climbed up the hill to Xepéc to visit the boys at their school, but they were outside playing with their friends as the teacher had failed to show up for classes (apparently a fairly common occurrence as their government pay cheque only arrives intermittently).
We didn't see as much of the two oldest boys on this trip as we did two years ago
The entire family was fascinated with the photos that we took of them, especially as we were able to instantly transform them into a slide show on our laptop computer .The laughter of our two mischievous imps, Eddy Maudilio and Hebert Eduardo, was particularly infectious as they saw themselves for the first time in full screen colour! One afternoon we spent time fighting a bush fire at a neighbouring property, and Herbert Eduardo, who had come to help, was rewarded with having his picture taken on the volunteer fire engine. On our last day at the hacienda we had a small despedida, or farewell party, and all enjoyed some sweet pastries and soft drinks. The bright orange wheelbarrow was a big hit with all the family, as was the brand new soccer ball, and helped to distract us from our imminent departure.
After breakfast on the patio on our final morning, we were overjoyed to discover that a bright red cactus flower that we had been watching develop for several days had finally opened in its full glory, as if to bid us farewell. A few more tearful hugs with Alberto and Juliana, and then we were finally ready to drive down out of the highlands to the coastal plain and head east towards the El Salvador border.