A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness

A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness

"Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

John Kerestes


Thursday, November 8, 2007

2006 Solola, Chichicastenango, Guatemala

The market in Chichicastenango was all that you might expect of a Mayan market. The night before and morning of market day (Thursdays & Sundays), people from outlying villages come into town walking with heavy loads strapped to their foreheads with mecapals, or balanced atop their heads. Some arrive by "chicken bus", or standing in the back of Toyota pickups, or walking miles on foot. They then set up plastic tarps, and ger-rigged booths for their wares, encompassing not only the square but the surrounding streets for 2-3 blocks in every direction. Their wares were a mixture of what tourists would want: belts, shawls, hand woven table cloths and runners, pillows, shirts, skirts, and lots of embroidery. There were also masks, Mayan "antiques", knives, dolls, and curios. In addition, the majority of the market catered to the local people with farm produce: lemons, corn, peanuts, live chickens and turkeys, as well as plastic buckets, rope, machetes, cook ware, wood burning stoves, and butchered but unrefrigerated meat. There was a man giving a demonstration of a local cure, showing diagrams of internal organs, and feeding water to a live turtle. He waved off my photography, as a clearly didn't want to cater to anyone but the locals.

There are 12 million people in Guatemala, of which 8 million are children, and only 1 million make enough money and are literate enough to file a tax return. There are 22 indigenous languages, and one in five people cannot speak Spanish. The primary language in the Highlands, where I was, is K'iche. I read a report, published in 2001, which said that 6 million people live in poverty, and among the Maya three of every four are impoverished, with a 70% illiteracy rat4e. Poverty in this part of the world means they live on less then $2 per day.