We stayed with a Mayan family in San Jose la Laguna. It was a fully traditional local family where different lives under one roof. The matriarch and the queen of the house Garciela work in a local fabric coloring cooperative. The patriarch Diego worked at the tourism center and in addition, he was involved in selling drinking water. We also had at home special tanks with water to drink. One of the family daughters, Thelma, lived with her parents. She has a small 1-year-old girl Karina. Her husband is a police officer. Unfortunately, we did not even meet him, because he only rarely has days off from duty. Thelma is also a student to become a teacher, but currently, she is on a break to stay at home with Karina. We also managed to meet the grandfather who joined us for a dinner. He lives close by and Diego often takes care of him by bringing food etc. Also one of the daughters lived nearby with his husband and kids and we met her daughter as well. Basically, the whole family was living really close by and they helping each other out.
Every morning and evening we dined together with the family. The family father or mother said always a prayer before a meal. Unfortunately, it was pretty difficult for us to communicate with the family because we do not know Spanish and they do not know English. So we needed to manage with the little Spanish that we had learned so far. At some point, we discovered that Google Translate is a really good tool for recording and later translating more difficult conversations. This helped us out a lot.
Kaija was able to help out when preparing the dinner. She was taught how to make the traditional tortilla bread, we named it “clapping”. The dinner was usually modest, but somehow always really tasty. Every evening we had tortilla bread to be eaten with smashed black beans, scrambled eggs, a piece of cheese or chicken and avocado. They also do traditional meals with some fruit similar to bananas. They boil it in sugar water and it usually as the main course. They always served coffee and tea for drinks. For our surprise, also the youngest member of the family got coffee in her baby bottle. Thelma told us that since she does not drink tea, she has coffee. The breakfast was more international – cornflakes with milk, pancakes, sandwich or fruit salad.
One evening the family introduced us to the Mayan altar. It is rather more a rule than an expert on to have a separate room for the altar. The altar was made from different stones, which symbolized something or someone and often were meant to protect a person. There was, for example, a stone to protect the son in law because of his dangerous work. On the altar, they also had some kind of local alcohol, which was dropped on the stones and also probably they sipped from it themselves as well when they were praying. The mother brought some incenses to the room. Since Jaanus’ knee had been hurting for some time, the mother did some kind of ritual by using the stones to rub Jaanus knee. She also used the alcohol to massage the knee. They told us many things about Mayan traditions and we understood that the village elder has a lot of power and ability to help people.
Thelma also introduced us to the Mayan calendar and the Mayan signs which we were born into. She used our date of birth to describe our personalities and future. Some of the things she told, were actually surprisingly true.
All in all, we very much enjoyed the stay with a local family. It gave a whole other feeling to the place and we almost did not even feel like tourists anymore 🙂