Textura Magazine - Guatemala, June 2017

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JA N U A RY 2017


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To define Guatemala... you have to pause to see the colors and contrasts that create its complex textures. To describe Guatemala, you cannot solely rely on the smell of coffee and the warm climate. You cannot ignore the poverty and violence because it´s part of its history. Both the harsh and pleasant create Guatemala.

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We are blessed with orchids and bugambilias that bloom all year long, but tremors and hurricanes plague us, too. Sometimes, we are cursed with dictatorships and corrupt leaders, but two years ago we reclaimed control of our government by pressuring the last president resign and convicting him for his crimes. He is in jail. Even if we don’t all agree on what is best for our country, Guatemalans are conscious that the job is not done, and that we need to help each other to create the prosperous Guatemala we envision. In tourist-filled Antigua, people may speak different languages than near the historic Mayan ruins near Petén. Or the villagers near Huehuetenango may wear huipiles, while the industrial communities of Guatemala City wear Europeans designs, but whatever place you go, there is always someone to offer a kind smile as you walk by. You don’t have to go far to see Guatemalans´ warmth and hospitality. Don’t categorize Guatemala as only a developing country. People here are more than poor. Their traditions, music, manners and religions create a new definition of wealth. A texture that includes the unique Guatemalan brightly colored buses; or the appealing textiles that Lidia creates through her own company; or Felix´s charming coffee farm; and the students at Los Patojos who forge an education that fills their families with pride. Students from Bethel University in Minnesota and in Guatemala City´s Michael Polanyi College sought out stories and created Textura to understand the colors that form Guatemala and its people beyond black and white. Challenging themselves to look past scarcity and victimhood, facing tough subjects and questions to push past the obvious. To see people and their lives as a symbol rather than as a stereotype. Because you can´t understand someone unless you are willing to empathize with them and see the world through their eyes, both the good and the bad.

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Both the magnificent lakes and the volcanic eruptions, both the 21 languages and the illiteracy, both the Mayan ruins and the struggle to modernize, are part of what Guatemala is. We ask the readers to flip through the pages of this magazine with empathy, because only with empathy can we learn from our beautiful country.

With love,

NATALY

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BASTERRECHEA


Contents 4

THE ART OF COFFEE

Felix Porón Medio dedicates his time, sweat and property to the bean he loves.

1 0 L O S PAT O J O S

A leader explores a Guatemalan alternative school that never stops teaching.

22 CARDBOARD BOOKSTORE An independent publisher hopes to revolutionize literature in Guatemala.

2 8 B E A U T Y O N LY T H E B O D Y CAN EXPRESS Juan Estuard Tacen Perez hits the avenues of Guatemala with a talent: street theater.

32 THE RICH ARTIST

Gabriel Gomez is one of the dozens of painters who station themselves near The Arch, Antigua’s historic landmark.

34 FROM RAGS INTO RICHES Lidia Serech Cutzal built a business, a family and a home despite discrimination and poverty.

4 4 T H R E A D S T H AT B I N D

Like their ancestors, Vanessa Martinez and her family weave and sell Mayan textiles. But Vanessa dreams of a life that goes beyond traditions.

50 'GIRL BOSS'

80 BEHIND THE MIC

54 SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, MEN

8 4 S E T T I N G T H E S TA G E

Christha Fuentes might only be 22, but her shoe designs outsell her age.

Mayor Susana Asensio attempts to establish trust Antigua after years of corrupt politics.

58 THE LOVE HOUR

Guatemalan native Isabel Sagastuy offers and insider’s perspective on love, relationships and public displays of affection in one of Guatemala’s most romantic cities: Antigua.

6 2 FA S H I O N F O R A R E A S O N

Jess Bercovici opened Antigua design company, Stela 9, to create fashionable clothes through ethical collaboration with Guatemalan artisans.

68 A LIFE WRITTEN IN INK

Guatemalan tattoo culture differs from that of the U.S. Artist Carlos Wolfos proves that although tattoos are permanent, they shouldn’t define a person, no matter their culture.

72 HELPING TO HEAL

Guatemalan healer and Myan Priestess Lidia Escobedo volunteers her healing therapies at Hogar de Ancianos Fray Rodrigo de La Cruz, a nursing home in Antigua. She also teaches the next generation of healers in villages across Guatemala in the face of skepticism.

A band tries to find a place in the Guatemala music scene.

The arts and entertainment industry is booming in Guatemala thanks to organizations like Performa.

86 THE MOST IN NEED

Disabled children and adults thrive in new home outside Antigua, after worldwide donor support.

9 4 F E E D I N G FA M I LY O N ICE CREAM

A story about Tomas, his ice cream and Antigua’s Central Park.

9 8 A F T E R T O D AY

Guatemalan woman waits 16 years for hernia surgery within struggling national health care system.

106 I D E N T I T Y B U S

The lives of locals center on unique Guatemalan transportation.

For this and more content, visit us online at SEEKTEXTURA.COM

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BE TH DAHLIN .

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FE L I X P OR ÓN ME DI O STA N D S I N B E T W E E N R OWS OF H I S I NFA NT C OFFE E P L AN T S I N T H E C I TY OF SA N MI GU E L DU E Ñ A, G UAT E M AL A. P OR ÓN P L A NTE D H I S FI R ST C O F F E E S E E D O N H I S PA R E NTS’ FA R M 2 0 Y E ARS AG O .


The art of coffee Felix Porón Medio dedicates his time, sweat and property to the bean he loves. by MORGAN PETERSON

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elix Porón Medio parked his pale yellow pickup under crisp fluttering flags strung between brick buildings in the city of San Miguel Dueña, Guatemala. Wearing a white T-shirt with a Café Felix logo plastered on the front, tan work boots and a straw cowboy hat, Porón unlocked a metal gate and swung it open. Behind it: 8,000 baby Bourbon coffee plants. Porón, 44, planted his first coffee seed on his parents’ farm 20 years ago. He worked solely on the family farm until his marriage to Martha Eugenia Jerez.The couple worked their coffee craft to put a daughter and son through school.

According to Antigua Tours tour guide Elizabeth Bell, coffee makes up 98 percent of Guatemala’s economy. Coffee was introduced to Guatemala in 1870, Bell explained. Large coffee farms had tax benefits because Guatemala needed to develop its economy. “We chose to pursue coffee farming because we wanted to give our children what we could not have,” Eugenia said. Porón’s coffee farm originally started with .01 acres of land, donated by his grandmother. Now, his operation consists of 33 acres through purchases made by Porón himself along with donations from family and non-governmental organi-

“My work right now is to give priority to my children,” Porón said.

“My work right now is to give priority to my children,” – Felix Porón Medio

HAN A K O

Porón left school after sixth grade, but believes in education. His 17-year-old daughter Evelyn will graduate high school this year to become a secretary and Eric, 16, studies agriculture with hopes of going to college for engineering. Porón wanted to sell coffee because of the high demand – starting in 1850 – but also because he loves the product.

WOR K E R S P R E PA R E FOR A DAY OF WOR K I N T H E CO F F E E FI E L D ON P OR ÓN’S C OFFE E FA R M L OC ATE D I N L A VUE LTA D E L OS P I NOS ON J A N. 18. TH E Y STA RTE D TH E I R C L I M B UP T H E MOU NTAI N AT 7 A. M .

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zations.On an average day, Porón employs three workers on the mountain at the foot of Volcan de Acatenango. During harvest, Porón hires six to 15 additional workers. “There is a high unemployment rate,” Porón said. “A lot of people just want a job and they do not care what it is.” Delfino Morales Godines, 46, has worked on Porón’s farm for one year. “I enjoy the diversity here [because] there are a variety of jobs within this one job,” Morales said. He works to support his wife and three kids. Morales, like many others, will work any job in order to support his family. About 12 years ago, Porón and Eugenia joined a co-op of 30 contributors. Porón taught the group of low-income families how to grow coffee plants. “The perception was that you could prosper [in a co-op]. The reality is that co-ops do not do well in Guatemala,” Bell said. “Co-ops do not prosper.” Today, Porón and Eugenia still participate with this co-op, but a majority of their sales are done independently − no middle man making a profit off their product. “Since the group is big, once the profits

are divided at the end of the day, there is not much left,” Porón said. “Selling coffee independently benefits us because we gain a little bit more.” On an average day, Porón spends most of his time working in Antigua, Guatemala, while Eugenia takes care of the home. When they receive orders for coffee, Eugenia tends to the beans. Much of the coffee-making process occurs in Porón and Eugenia’s household. “This is my workshop,” Porón said, gesturing to his home. The coffee process begins on Porón’s coffee farm located in la Vuelta de los pinos, which translates to the return of the pines. Mature Bourbon coffee trees that produce coffee cherries. Once the fruit ripens, workers hand-pick the circular, red fruit. They transport cherries in the back of Porón’s pickup to his home. The cherries then go through a classification process. Porón drops them in water and separates them depending on quality. The cherries that float are sold to locals, specifically in diners or at markets, and the cherries that sink − the good ones − are exported.

COFFEE BEA NS LIE O N T HE GROU ND A S TH E Y DRY AT P OR ÓN A ND E U GE NI A’S H OME SA N MI GU E L DU EÑA , GU AT EMA LA ON JA N. 18. IT O FTE N TA K E S A B OU T SE V E N DAYS TO DRY SU C C E SSFU L LY WHEN DRYING T HE BEA NS T HROU GH T H E U SE OF TH E SU N.

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B ET H DA H LIN

FE LIX P OR ÓN MEDIO STA NDS IN BET WEEN R OWS OF H IS INFA NT C O FFEE PLA NT S IN T HE CITY OF S AN MIGU EL DU EÑA , GU AT EMA LA . P OR ÓN P LANT ED HIS FIRST C O FFEE SEED O N H IS PAR E N TS ’ FA RM 20 YEA RS A GO .

BE TH DAHLIN

FE LIX P OR ÓN MEDIO RA KES C O FFEE BE AN S ON H IS BA C K PORC H T O ENSU RE SUCCE S S F UL DRIVING O N JA N. 18. T HE M AJ OR ITY OF T HE C O FFEE MA KING PROC ESS IS DON E IN P ORÓN A ND EU GENIA’S HOME IN TH E CITY OF SA N A MIGU EL DU EÑA , G UATE MALA.

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“We chose to pursue coffee farming because we wanted to give our children what we could not have.” – Martha Eugene Jerez

BE TH DAHLIN .

M ARTH A E UGENIA JEREZ , FELIX P OR ÓN M E DIO ’S W IFE, PIC KS COFF E E CH ERRIES O N T HE C OFFEE FAR M ON J AN. 18. EU GENIA SP E NDS H E R T IME ON T HE FA RM WITH AD DITI O NA L W ORKERS, ON AV E R AGE, A BOU T T W O TIME S A Y E AR.

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J E LS ON M ARTÍNEZ PIC KS C O FFEE C HERRIES ON P OR ÓN ’S COFFEE FA RM LO C AT ED IN LA V UE LTA DE LOS PINOS ON JA N. 18. T HE COF F E E FAR M BEGA N WIT H .01 A C RES A ND NOW CONS IS TS O F 33 A C RES.

Next, a machine removes the cherry, which leaves behind two coffee beans. The beans are separated by size through the use of a machine. Porón needs to rent the $30,000 machine because he can’t afford it. The fermentation process comes next. Porón places the beans in a cement tub for 24 to 30 hours, which allows them to warm. He adds water to the warm beans and separates them again. Floating beans are discarded − the rest are sold. “We have the best coffee in the world,” Bell said. In the back of Porón and Eugenia’s home lies a concrete slab where the beans are tossed to dry for eight to 10 days. Eugenia rakes the beans every hour during the day and upon successful drying, piles them in 100-pound bags. On average, Porón sells 4,000 pounds of coffee per year. One pound of coffee is sold for 60 quetzales, or $8, which equals about 18 cents per cup. “Professionals say that the flavor is very special,” Porón said. Back home at the end of the day, Porón swings his legs out of his pickup, grabs his cowboy hat from the back of the cab, and begins to walk down the narrow, dirt path. Eugenia greets him at the door. He slides two chairs together and approaches the coffee pot, placing two mugs side-by-side.

BOURBON COFFEE TREE

Cultivar, or selective breeding plant, of coffee arabica

C O F F E E C H E R RY

Fruit of a coffee tree resembling a cherry in shape, color and size and containing two coffee seeds enclosed by pulp and an outer skin

F E R M E N TAT I O N

Removes honey, sweet flavor in bean

“The process of making coffee is very special, it is like an art form for me.” – Felix Porón Medio

S TORY D E SIGN BY BET H DA HLIN

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P HO TO BY P ETR A LE E

J UAN PABLO ROMERO TA LKS ABOU T HIS C ONC EPT OF PAT OJISMO, A NEW P H ILOSOP H Y FO R EDU C AT ION IN J OCOTE NANGO , GU AT EMA LA ON J AN. 9. RO MERO C A ME UP WITH THIS NEW WAY OF TH IN KIN G A FT ER ST U DYING D IF F E R E N T E D U C AT IO N SYST EMS F OR MULT IPLE YEA RS. “T HE TH IN G I’V E LEA RNED A BOU T IDE OLOG IE S IS T HEY DIVIDE YO U AND MAKE Y OU A NGRY. MY O NLY IDE A IS MY A C T ION.”

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Los Patojos: Guatemala’s eternal after school program A leader explores a Guatemalan alternative education that never stops teaching. by KATIE SAFFELL & CHANTAL SOLDINI

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osue lands on his back and hits his head against the hardwood floor. He immediately springs back and spins one more time on his head as the background beat continues. The white auditorium lights look down on him as he performs a flare over and over again -a classic break dance move. His feet keep suspended in the air as he spins on his arms not only once, but six times. Josue is drenched

in sweat when he finishes, his grey sweater hanging loosely from his thin frame. He explains the frog, the freeze, the score mechanics in break dance. Josue is a 20-year-old teacher at the educational program Los Patojos, located in Jocotenango, Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. “It’s all about the skill,” Josue says. “You learn in the street, but you need to practice to get skill.”

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AN D Y ALQUIJ AY TR IE S T O HELP T O FIX A BROKEN ELEC T RIC SA NDE R AT L O S PATOJ OS IN J OCOT ENA NGO, GU AT EMA LA O N JA N. 11. NO ONE I N TH E G R OUP H AS H AD A NY ELEC T RIC A L T RA INING WHAT SOE V E R . “ FOR M E , IM P R OV ISATION IS A N A RT,” SA ID ROMERO .

He heaves and demonstrates a freeze moment, his arms suspending his body.

21, stands besides him, mirroring his movements. “Sometimes we go together to the plaza and juggle between each other.”

“I’ve been dancing over six years.”

W A L LY A L V A R A D O AGE: 17 TEACHES : Photography YEARS AT LO S PATOJ OS: 3

As he explains techniques, other students – Wally Christopher, 17, and Denilson Larios, 18, – start to explore different steps to the banging beat in the auditorium. The two both teach at Los Patojos with Josue. The thin line between learners and educators disappears quickly between the walls of Los Patojos. “I teach younger kids what I learned here,” said Guillermo Corado, 13. He juggles a diabolo and watches how it lands on the string between his batons. Gary Alexander García,

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Corado is a student at Los Patojos coursing in eighth grade. He sports a flat brim hat with neon green lining. Like the other patojos in the room, Corado is not only a student but a hired cook, teacher assistant and handyman. Los Patojos is an alternative education program founded in 2006 by Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes. The name of the program is a play on words of the Guatemalan slang for “young boy or girl:” patojo or patoja. The concept of the school starts and ends with the patojos who inhabit the building. The school not only represents a new pedagogy method but also a social movement.

PHOTO BY PETRA LEE

PHOTO BY PETRA LEE

C H A NTA L S OLDINI

LOR E S T FACIA V IT ODIAT U SA M, Q U IS DERNA M FA C ERC IU M N OS A CON E P OR E S ET U R? Q U I A VOLU PTA SSIMINU S, QU I D IATE P LIG N ISQUIA SOLENT IO N NIA Q U IA MENT U R? G IT, NON E R UNT. LABO RU M Q U AT EMP EDIPSA M EST EU M R E P E R UM E V OLUP TA Q U A ME VOLO RESC IA VOLO RI Q U I


JOS IA H T ILLM A N

TH E SC H OOL B U I L DI NG I S E MP TY A S TE A C H E R S A ND STAF F P RE PARE FOR TH E U P C OMI NG SC H OOL YE A R I N J OC OTE NA NGO, G UAT E M AL A ON J A N. 11. TH E C ONSTR U C TI ON OF TH E L OS PATOJ OS B UI L D I N G WAS C OMP L E TE D J U ST TH R E E Y E ARS AG O .

Laura, Pamela and Flavia sit in a row at two tables pushed together for one collective desk. They prepare curriculum and bob to music coming from a portable speaker. Pamela sings along, “Bidi bidi bidi bidi bidi bam bam.” She takes the paper she has been working on and moves it to the next stack. Flavia’s laptop has a CNN Heroes sticker on it. A mug on Juan Pablo Romero’s desk says “Soy un Héro,” or “I am a Hero.” CNN featured Romero on its CNN Heroes special, and the Prensa Libre, one of Guatemala’s main newspapers, listed him as one of the “10 Angels of Guatemala.” Romero dismisses it quickly. “Our heroes are our children,” he said. He describes his job as making kids into cool people, but he corrects himself.

“They’re already cool, they just don’t know it yet.” He touches a photo on the wall, which is painted like a tree with student photos hanging off branches like pine cones. “My job is to make them visible.” Now, Romero, 31, stands in the middle of Los Patojos’ open courtyard, the bright red background highlights his figure as he pushes back his reading glasses and loops his thumbs into his ripped jeans pockets. He stands under the midday sun and wipes sweat off his forehead under his flat brim hat. His left shoe is untied and his right shoelaces are on the verge of unravelling. Romero refuses to be called headmaster. Instead, he insists on being addressed as JP.

G A RY G A R C I A A G E : 21 T E A C H E S : Juggling Y E A R AT L O S PAT O JO S : 1

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K AT IE S A F F ELL

GU I L L E R MO C OR A DO L O O K S UP A ND L A U GH S WH I L E P R E PA R I N G T H E GA R DE N AT L OS PATOJ OS O N JAN . 16 I N J OC OTE NA NGO, GU AT E M AL A. TOGE TH E R , TH OSE AT L OS PAT O JO S WE R E A B L E TO FI NI SH TH E GA RD E N I N J U ST O N E D AY.

“This is a family thing,” Romero said. The sun has crossed the courtyard andpeeks inside the roof that covers the hallway. The three teachers, Pamela, Flavia and Laura, pause from their lesson-planning to move their tables, one at a time, across the courtyard to where the wall will provide them some shade.

DIEGO CALDERON AGE: 23 TEACHES : Physical Education YEARS AT LO S PATOJ OS: 3

Los Patojos is like the ultimate afterschool program, plugged into a curriculum. Nothing is mandatory. No schedule. No punishment. The only requirement is to bring an open heart and a broad mindset. “Freedom is a process. It sounds cool, but it’s a daily process.” Romero said. The patojos seem confused when they explain why they attend the school. Wally flashes a dogtooth grin. He stumbles with his words but finally

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says, “This is my home.” Most young boys at Los Patojos can relate. The teachers and assistant teachers are there from morning until sunset, their hectic day fueled by cafeteria lunch breaks and sunbathing sessions. School commences Jan. 26 and they are all painting, gardening and cleaning up for the upcoming students. It is both their job and their leisure. “It doesn’t feel like work,” says Fernando Ortiz Moreira, one of the school’s many art teachers. Moreira studied literature in Mexico and published five books between Mexico and Guatemala. He is a Jocotenango native, just like school founder Juan Pablo Romero. “We’ve known each other for a long time. I published my first book in 2005, he opened the school in 2006.


When I returned from Mexico, I began to work here.” He also acts and coaches theater for the school’s theater group. Los Patojos focuses on the arts. Romero believes in the power of art to liberate the youth of Jocotenango. “Art is our most powerful tool. I thought, if we save the worst, there won’t be a bad area anymore.” Romero looks at a wall behind him. He points to another hand-drawn image of a local map with different markings. “The first thing they learn is where everyone lives,” he said. “It’s important to know where your peers live. They don’t teach us that at normal schools. It is most important that we teach kids to create a community feeling. If you

K AT IE S A F F ELL

S OFÍA SITS AN D REA DS WH ILE SH E WAIT S FOR H E R SIS TE R TO E NROLL H E R IN CLASS E S FOR TH E UP COM IN G YEA R IN J OCOTE NAN GO , GUATE M ALA ON JA N. 12. S OFÍA’S S IS TE R CU RRENT LY WOR KS AT LOS PAT O JO S AS A TE ACH E R .

“Art is our most powerful tool. I thought, if we save the worst, there won’t be a bad area anymore.” – Juan Pablo Romero

teach this as the first part of learning, then you understand where you are, so you know where you want to go.”

CINDY VALAZQUEZ A G E : 17 T E A C H E S : 2nd Grade Y E A R AT L O S PAT O JO S : 1

At 21 years old, Romero traveled Guatemala for four months with his guitar. When he returned to his neighborhood the despondency he felt prompted him

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JOS IA H T ILLM A N

to quit everything and start a school in his home.

J O C E LY N R U I Z AGE: 20 TEACHES: 7th Grade YEAR AT LOS PATOJ OS: 1

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The school grew rapidly, and Romero knew his school needed to expand. Romero and his team built the school in four parts: main classrooms and a courtyard, a kitchen and dining area, an auditorium, and an annex of additional classrooms, offices, a garden, and a clinic. When the school started 10 years ago, 125 children shared one bathroom, which frequently stopped functioning from overuse. The new building, now complete, is 3 years old. Romero’s favorite part? The bathrooms. Students and teachers prepare for the

school year. The boys’ clothes match the walls. They wear bright colors and they bustle among each other, doing handstands and putting each other in headlocks. Wally flits between his brother and his friend, Diego Calderon. Gary bounces between the group sitting in a line on the wall and his paintbrush, which does not move unless he is laughing or dancing to the pop music Diego has pulsing from a portable speaker. Corado gravitates toward the edges of the cluster when the boys congregate. He has a bulky, navy hoody zipped up to his broad shoulders that fold


“So far we’re still alive and that’s what matters to us.” – Juan Pablo Romero C H A NTAL S OLD I NI

LE FT: GARY GAR CIA TA KES A BR E AK FR OM PA INT ING TH E SCH OOL A ND PLAYS P IN G P ON G WIT H HIS P E E R S AT LOS PAT O JO S IN J OCOTE NA NGO, GUATE M ALA ON JA N. 18. TH E STAFF AT LOS PAT OJO S AR E A TIG H T K NIT GROU P, DOIN G M OS T EVERYT HING TOGE TH E R , WHET HER IT BE WOR K OR P LAY.

RIGHT: TH R E E STA FF MEMBERS AT LO S PAT OJO S H E LP PREPA RE LU NC H IN J OC O T ENA NGO , GUATE M ALA O N JA N. 12 F OR AN Y ONE W HO IS AT TH E S CHOOL T HAT DAY. MOST OF T HE YO U NGER MALE T EA C HERS HELP P R E PAR E F O OD T OGET HER.

in when he feels eyes on him. His own eyes peek out from beneath the green underside of his flat-brimmed black cap. He is larger than Wally, and probably as tall as the older boys, but his head ducks as frequently as his shoulders fold. A ping pong table materializes and Gary produces paddles almost as quickly as he can retrieve juggling pins. The game lasts until someone gets three points. They rotate, winner versus sub and the loser hands his paddle to whomever lacks one. Wally gives his paddle away and darts off while Guillermo’s eyes train the ball

between his paddle and Diego’s. The ball bounces past Diego to the far left, and it’s Guillermo’s serve. Guillermo’s focus is unshakeable. Diego’s return whizzes past Guillermo without hitting the table: 2:0. Wally returns with a tennis racket, ready to play. His snaggled grin makes a reappearance. Guillermo’s focus finally breaks and the boys fall into laughing. Still a student at the school who teaches workshops in photography and graphic art, Wally wants to come back to Los Patojos and teach when

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P ETRA LE E

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WA LBE RTO ALVAR ADO T EA SES HIS O LDER B R OTH E R GIOVANNI A S HE PREPA RES T O PAIN T TH E WALL AT LO S PAT OJO S ON JA N. 12 IN J OCOTE NA NGO, GU AT EMA LA . G IOVANNI ALVAR AD O IS T HE C U RRENT A RT TE ACH E R AT LOS PATOJO S.


PET RA LEE

LA U RA EXPLA INS WH AT SH E TE A C H E S AT L OS PATOJ OS ON JA N. 12 IN JO C OT ENA NGO, GU ATE MA L A . A LTH OU GH E A C H OF T HE T EA C HERS AT L OS PATOJ OS H AV E A SP E C I A LTY, MA NY OF T HEM SHA RE RESP ONSI B I L I TI E S WI TH E A C H OTH E R I N ORDER T O W ORK A S E FFI C I E NTLY A S P OSSI B L E .

he graduates. He says he is grateful for what the school has taught him.

tables to paint, others clean, a small group stands in a circle chatting.

Guillermo doesn’t know what he wants to be, but maybe a lawyer. He enjoys his classes in social studies and history, but that is not why he is interested in law.

Most everyone rotates before long, not by any set schedule but more from a sense of whole. Corado embodies a quiet understanding of what the place means. For Guillermo, for Gary, for Wally, Josue and all the young people at Los Patojos, the school is a place in which outside factors are obsolete. Age, family, income and personal

“I like to protect people,” he says. While a handful of teachers cook in the kitchen, some teachers stand on

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WAL BERTO ALVAR ADO

history make no difference in the Los Patojos family. What matters to Romero are the people his students choose to become while they are there. Guillermo looks happiest when he juggles. He can easily keep up with García, his elder by several years, and they work in tandem 20

with a steady beat, catching each others’ batons like a conversation. The characteristic black cap finds itself on backwards, no longer shading Corado’s eyes, which twinkle with the same lightness that plays at the corners of his mouth. The shoulders gradually unfold. STORY DE SI GN B Y P E TR A L E E


“My school is in the street. I want to create something that is not a privilege but a human right.” – Juan Pablo Romero

GA RY GA RC IA B E GI NS TO H E A D H OME A FTE R A L ONG DAY AT LO S PATOJ OS ON J A N. 17 I N J OC OTE NA NGO, GU AT EMA LA . MOST STA FF ME MB E R S AT A L OS PATOJ OS GREW U P IN J OC OTE NA NGO A ND WA L K OR B I K E TO SC H OOL E V E RY DAY.

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E Y NARD MENENDEZ SMILES A S HE TA LKS ABOUT HIS FA MILY’S BU SINESS WHILE S TAN DING O U T SIDE HOT EL SA NTA A NA IN S ANTA A NA , GU AT EMA LA O N JA N. 19. ME N E NDEZ HELPS RU N T HE FA MILY HO T EL, WH ICH PRO VIDES T HE FU NDS FOR HIS P UBLISHING BU SINESS.

Cardboard bookstore JOSI AH TILL MAN

An independent publisher hopes to revolutionize literature in Guatemala.

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by KATIE SAFFELL


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PET RA LEE

EYNA RD MENENDEZ C U T S OU T A P I E C E OF C A RDBOA RD T O U SE A S HIS BOOK ’S C OV E R AT HIS DESK IN SA NTA A NA , GU ATE MA L A ON JA N. 9. MENENDEZ U SES C HEA P MATE R I A L S A ND PRINT S T HE BOOKS HIMSEL F TO K E E P T HE PRIC E OF HIS BOOKS LO W.

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ynard Menendez scratches his jaw just behind his beard as an Epson desktop printer churns out five by seven pages of brown paper. The desk sits under the awning of a long hallway on the second story of Menendez’s family business, Hotel Santa Ana. Menendez disappears into room number 25, his bedroom, returning moments later with an unfolded cardboard box. He tears the box without decorum to isolate one sheet of cardboard, and tosses the rest to the side.

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the Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala press when he published the first edition. Menendez was the only graduate with a degree in literature. In Guatemala, Menendez believes, the choice to be a literature student turns out to be “the biggest mistake of your life.” With few jobs in the field and fewer opportunities for writers, Guatemala may appear as a hostile environment to Menendez and people like him. Because of this, most students try to study law or medicine, but before university Menendez was an idealist. “When you start university,” he smirks, “you are drunk.” The literality of his meaning swishes in his glass of wine.

Menendez gives the sheet of cardboard in his hand another look, realizing the lack of space he has to work with. He drops the sheet, snatches his HP laptop opened to a Word document and plops the computer on top of the printer, still chk-chk-chrrr-ing the pages of a book.

Even wine has symbolic meaning, chipping at the façade of the cynic that has evolved from the idealist. This bottle comes from San Juan del Obispo, the village of his favorite author, Luis de Lion.

Menendez, 27, has been an independent publisher since 2012, when he published his first book, an anthology of short stories. He was still an undergraduate literature student working at

Lion, a writer, professor and strong advocate for education during Guatemala’s tumultuous civil war, was kidnapped and murdered in 1984, and became a martyr for Guatemalan


J OSIAH T ILLMAN

EYNA RD MENENDEZ SIT S IN A C O MMON A REA IN HIS FA MILY’S HO T EL IN SA NTA A NA , GU AT EMA LA O N JA N. 19. MENEND E Z STATE D T HAT HE NEVER C OMES OU T HERE TO R E A D A ND INST EA D JU ST REA DS IN HIS BED.

literature. “He formed me,” Menendez says reverently. The printer has gone silent but its cadence remains in the thought process etched on Menendez’s face. He snatches the papers from the printer and taps them on the desk, then once again on the back of his chair. Slipping the stack into the collator, Menendez starts the process of binding the pages with

bright colored thread. Reaching into one drawer, then another, he finds a scrap of cloth which he snips by hand with scissors to get a strip roughly one inch wide. He lines the scrap with glue and holds it in place on the bound pages. The phone rings. He reaches with one hand for his cell phone, looks at it, then reaches for the landline.

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JOS IA H T ILL M A N

EYNA RD MENENDEZ SLO WLY SEA R C H E S H I S BO OKSHELF IN SA NTA A NA , GU ATE MA L A O N JA N. 19 FOR T HE T W O A U T H OR S TH AT INSPIRED HIS WRIT ING C O NT ES T’S TH E ME S. MENENDEZ C HOOSES A NEW T H E ME E A C H YEA R, BA SING IT O FF O F HIS FAV OR I TE A U T HO RS’ GENRES.

“[The word] competition is too neoliberal. A contest is because you want to participate.” – Eynard Menendez

“¿Hola?” He listens for a moment, with brief answers, then shoves the phone in the crook between his chin and shoulder. “Sí.” He looks for a pen, and when he cannot find one begins to type notes with one hand on the open Word document of the manuscript he just printed. From one desk, Menendez runs an entire publishing company, Los Zopilotes. Menendez lives and works in his family’s business, the Hotel Santa Ana. His office space nests under the awning of a long hallway on the second story of the hotel. The company’s name refers to a carrion bird, the zopilote, known in English as the

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American Black Vulture. The bird, which appears in Mayan codices and hieroglyphics, symbolizes, according to Menendez, an essence of Guatemalan life. In his publications Menendez honors Guatemalan culture while rebelling against a system he has found to be greedy and unfair. “I don’t charge [to publish books] because when I wanted to publish my first book, everyone charged me.” Los Zopilotes also holds a yearly writing competition that publishes the winning piece. “[The word] competition is too neoliberal. A contest is because you want to participate.” The contest varies every year based on genre. In 2015, writers from all over Guatemala submitted poetry. In 2016,


P E TR A LE E

E YNA R D ME NE NDE Z GL U E S TH E SP I NE OF H I S NE WLY B OU ND B OOK TO A P I E C E OF C H E A P FA B R I C I N SA NTA A NA , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 19. ME NE NDE Z TR I E S TO FI ND TH E C H E A P E ST A ND MOST A C C E SSI B L E MATE R I A L S TO U SE FOR H I S B OOK S. “ YE A H , OF C OU R SE I SOME TI ME S U SE MY OWN B OX E R S.”

writers from all over the world submitted pieces for the storytelling genre. Los Zopilotes received more than 160 story submissions. Menendez laughs at the number. “That’s too much for Guatemala.” When the glue is dry enough, Menendez sets the bound pages aside and reaches for the cardboard sheet. He measures it with a protractor,

then carves a rectangle out with a box cutter. He repeats the process, and he now has the front and back covers of his new book. After another 10 minutes of glue drying, Menendez holds the finished publication in his hand. STORY DE SI GN B Y P E TR A L E E

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‘Beauty only the body can express’

BE TH DAHLIN .

J UAN E STUAR DO TA C EN P E R E Z P OS E S DU RING A P E R F OR MAN CE ON 5A AV E N ID A N ORTE IN A NT IGU A , G UATE MALA J AN. 7. TA C EN IN TE N TION ALLY DOES NOT PAINT ONE QUART ER O F H IS LE FT CH E E K T O C REAT E A NE W P E R SP E C T IVE A ND OUTLOOK ON ST REET P E R F OR ME R S .

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J U A N E STU A R DO TA C E N P E R E Z R E STS B E TWE EN SE TS ON 5A AV E NI DA NORTE I N A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A J A N. 7. TA C E N H A S WOR K E D A S A MI ME I N GU ATE MA L A FOR TH E L A ST E I GH T YE A R S.

M OR GA N P E T E R S ON

“There is a certain beauty that only the body can express.This challenge excites me.” – Juan Estuardo Tacen Perez

Juan Estuardo Tacen Perez hits the avenues of Guatemala with a talent: street theater. by MORGAN PETERSON

J

uan Estuardo Tacen Perez knelt down on his left knee and reached for three charcoaled-colored fire torches. On the uneven cobblestones, he poured three inches of gasoline into a cup and plunged each torch in one at a time. Eyes of tourists, intermixed with local Guatemalans, stuck to Tacen like street cement. He ascended into an upright position, grabbed a yellow Bic lighter out of his back right pocket and positioned each torch over the flame until they roared into existence.

J UAN E S TUARDO TA C EN PEREZ BA LA NC ES ON E F IR E TOR CH ON HIS FO REHEA D W HILE J UGGLING TWO A DDIT IONA L FIRE T O RC HES ON 5A AVENIDA NO RT E IN A NT IGU A , GUATE MA LA JA N. 7. TA C EN’S ST REET TH E ATR E P E R FORMA NC E LA ST ED ONE HOU R.

MOR GAN P ETE RSON

Tacen has worked as a mime on the streets of Guatemala for eight years. He drags one green suitcase with him wherever he goes and relies on tips from his audience to support himself. According to Elizabeth Bell, a

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M ORGA N PET ERS ON

JUAN E S TUAR DO TACE N P E R E Z IN TE R ACTS WITH H IS CR O W D ON 5A AV E N ID A N ORTE IN AN TIGUA, G U ATE M ALA J AN . 7. DUR ING T H E W E E K, TACE N S P E NDS H IS T IME TR AINING F OR TH E S E P E R F OR MAN CE S B Y P R A CTICING S CR IP TS , L IS T E N ING TO MUSIC AND L O O K I N G AT CLOWN V ID E OS ON Y OUTUBE .

CR OWD ME M BE R S PART IC IPAT E IN ON E OF TACE N ’S B A L LOON MAKIN G AC T S ON JA N. 7. TACE N US E S MA NY TE CH NIQUE S TO E N TERTA IN H IS CR OWD, S UCH AS FIRE TO R CH E S , BALLOON ANIMA LS AN D J UGGLING.

“I want to stand out by doing something refreshing and different than what already has been done.” – Juan Estuardo Tacen Perez

tour guide at Antigua Tours, street performing is illegal in many areas of Guatemala. “About 11 years ago, restaurants and hotels got together and decided to close off Arch Street on Saturdays and Sundays,” Bell said. “We close the street because these cultural activities are special.” Although this was a prior concern, Tacen decided to pursue his passion regardless. He wanted to be more than a nuisance to local businesses or even a sideshow for tourists. He had bigger dreams. Growing up, Tacen’s family struggled economically.

BE TH DAHLIN

“Like every Guatemalan kid, I needed to look for a job,” Tacen explained. Tacen could have chosen a job similar to what other kids his age were doing, such as construction, but instead he participated in urban theater within his neighborhood. “There is a certain beauty that only the body can express,” Tacen said. “This challenge excites me.”

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After being interested in street theater for many years, 24-year-old Tacen


M ORGA N PET ERS ON

created his own street theater company called Maleta de la Alegria, which means joy suitcase. Now, eight years later, Tacen, 32, devotes his weekends to performing as a mime. “I want to travel, eat and live off of the art,” Tacen said. His weeks are spent training Monday through Friday by practicing scripts, listening to music and looking at clown videos on YouTube. He performs nine to 11 acts, including juggling fire torches, balloon animals and tricks with the diabolo, which is a juggling or circus prop. “He draws a big attraction,” Bell said. “Everyone loves him.”

Tacen strives to stand out from other street performers in Guatemala by intentionally not painting one quarter of his left cheek. “Normally a mime has a white face,” Tacen said. “I want to stand out by doing something refreshing and different than what already has been done ... (I hope to) transport people who are not able to afford going to a theater, by using street theater,” Tacen said. ST ORY DE SI GN B Y B E TH DA H L I N

“[My hope is to] transport people who are not able to afford going to a theater, by using street theater” – Juan Estuardo Tacen Perez

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The rich artist Gabriel Gomez is one of the dozens of painters that station themselves near The Arch, Antigua’s historic landmark. by CHANTAL SOLDINI

G

abriel Gomez laughs out loud as a familiar local calls him out on his shirt. He wears a soccer jersey of the team Real Madrid, a popular soccer team from Spain. When asked about it, Gabriel smiles and shrugs. “I have no affiliation. I just liked the shirt.” He continues painting with ease, the midday sun casting his shadow on top of his watercolor painting. He strokes his brush over the small canvas, the lavender trail outlining small clouds behind the arch. Gabriel leans back on his small wooden stool. He crosses his arms over his chest and observes a near passersby. “People say you’re going to be poor as an artist, but I was more poor working at a company,” he explains. “I used to work at a rug company for 20 years.” He describes his experience as miserable and that he always wanted to study art in his late midlife, Gabriel decided to begin his education in art.

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“I went to the school of Artes Plásticas here in Antigua and learned how to paint there. I’ve been painting 7 years.” Gabriel smiles and puts his hand over his eyes to shade them from the scorching sun. “No one believed in me.” He shakes his head. “Not my wife, or my daughter. No one. I almost got divorced when I started to work as a street artist.” Every day Gabriel places his small work station at the side of the road in front of Antigua’s most popular landmark: The Arch. Some days he sits underneath it, other days he places his work station two blocks down. He paints watercolor with colors that aren’t present in his surroundings yet highlights their beauty. Purple clouds, orange puddles, lavender undertones and green highlights. “When I started to sell, the Americans would come up to me and tell me it was good but then they would buy


from another artist,” says Gabriel. “So I practiced and practiced until I got better. We all teach each other here.” He looks down the road and spots another fellow street artist. His paintings range in size and price. He points at a blue jay and says, “that one is $20.” No painting passes the price of 20 US dollars. “My eldest daughter is a nurse. I paid her whole education by painting,” says Gabriel. “When she graduated she came to me and apologized, crying, with her diploma.” Gabriel looks down at his black leather shoes and taps his foot a couple of times. “She told me how she realized that painting could be

“She told me how she realized that painting could be a job with dignity.” – Gabriel Gomez

a job with dignity.” He nods to himself and resumes painting. Gabriel usually sticks at his favorite spot under the arch, in front of the Hotel El Convento Santa Catalina, where he paints Antigua, Guatemala with different colors but always with the same smile.

KATI E SAFFE LL

S TORY D E SIGN BY PET RA LEE

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Weaving rags into riches Lidia Serech Cutzal built a business, a family and a home, despite of discrimination and poverty. by ALAYNA HOY

ALLE GR A B ER GE R

L I DI A SE R E C H C U TZA L SE PA R ATE S A ND OR DE R S H E R TH R E A DS P R E PA R I NG TO WE AV I NG I N C OMA L A PA , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 12. SE R E C H WOV E H E R FI R ST TA B L E C L OTH WH E N SH E WA S 8 YE A R S OL D. “ MY FATH E R FE LT TH AT SC H OOL WA S NOT U SE FU L FOR ME A ND MY SI STE R S,” SE R E C H SAYS.

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M AT T IE K IDDER

SE R E C H ’ S CO -W O RK E R E SP E RE N Z A W O RK S DI L I G E N T LY I N T H E WOR K S H O P O F H E R H O M E I N C O M AL APA, G UAT E M AL A ON J A N . 1 2 . T H E W O M E N STOR E T H E I R W O O D E N WE AVI N G I N S T RUM E N T S H E R E , AL O N G W I T H TH R E AD AN D FAB RI C MATERI AL S . “ T H E L O CAL C A R P E N T E RS M AD E T H E S E I NSTRUM E N T S , ” S E RE CH SAYS. “ T I M E M AK E S I T E A SI E R T O M O VE T H E M . ”

L

idia Serech Cutzal paced and frowned as she watched one, two, three hours slip by. The short clicks of the clock snipped and snapped like scissors shearing away the final frayed threads of her bittersweet childhood.

With her love for her boyfriend crumpled like a dirty handkerchief in a back pocket, and the fear of death at her father’s hand clenching her stomach, Serech made a decision that would change her life forever. Rather than return home, she took a 10 quetzales (approximately $1.25) loan from a friend, and left her life, family and sleepy hometown of Comalapa behind to find work in Guatemala City.

MATTI E KIDDER

A 15-year-old with an 8 p.m. curfew, Serech begged and pleaded her boyfriend to allow her to return home, before it was too late. Finally, at 11 p.m. he relented and let her leave. Three hours past curfew and Lidia’s hour of reckoning had come. “My father was a strict and bad man,” Lidia recalls. “When we were young, he beat us with a whip this wide.” She spreads her thumb and forefinger about an inch and a half apart. “I was afraid to go back home, I was afraid my dad would kill me.”

L I DI A SE R E C H C U TZA L OV E R SE E S C O- WOR K E R E SP E R A NZA A S SH E SP OOL S TH E TH R E A D I N TH E WOR K SH OP OF TH E I R H OME C OMA L A PA , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 12. TH E FR I E NDS ME T NE A R LY TH I RTY YE A R S A GO.

35


When Lidia Serech Cutzal grins, her mouth transforms into a gleaming mosaic of crooked teeth and decorative gold crowns. Her shiny metal accessories at once disguise and augment past cavities and grievances. For this 58-year-old weaver and business owner, such scars and sorely won bandages prove a running theme. Her past and present are woven together like the many threads of the huipil and corte – traditional Mayan blouse and skirt, respectively – she wears under a thick golden sweater. “Lidia’s not a typical Mayan weaver or woman,” says Molly Berry, one of Serech’s primary clients and owner of the Antigua home-goods wholesale company Luna Zorro. “She owns her own home. She owns her own car. She drives. She speaks Spanish and she has her own business. She’s a single mom. That’s just not typical.”

“Lidia’s not a typical Mayan weaver or woman.” – Molly Berry

A passageway off the front courtyard leads to Serech’s workspace and conjoining living space, which she shares with her red-cheeked, adopted son, 13-year-old David Emanuel. At the end of the passageway, Serech’s coworker, housemate and friend Esperanza sits in dappling sunlight, operating a wooden weaving instrument with firm hand movements, creating and responding to the rhythm of the soft hum which follows. Decades of shared tears, laughter and threads connect her to Serech. In 1973, Serech found work in Guatemala City as a housekeeper, until the friend who loaned her the 10 quetzales a few months before discovered the reason Serech left and

NATALY BASTER RE CHE A

Almost all her life, Serech has lived in the dusty and sunburnt rural community of Comalapa, Guatemala. Red tuktuks, fruit vendors, and inexplicable patches of upturned asphalt obstruct most of the roads and pathways to her front door. One such Comalapan alleyway separates Serech’s wooden garage door and tan courtyard wall from a crumbling concrete structure in a field of crunchy hollow cornhusks. A doorway within the garage door opens and Serech’s toothy grin emerges.“Welcome to my home,” Serech says in her native Mayan language, Cakchiquel.

Behind her a green courtyard leads up to her home, where a metallic Toyota RAV-4, parked beneath two slanted slabs of sheet metal covered in plentiful green vines, shimmers in competition with her sparkly silver hairclip to catch the rays of late morning sunshine.

L I D IA SE R E CH CUTZAL C REAT ES A PILLO WC A SE W EAVING FO R L U NA ZOR R O I N C OMA L A PA , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 12. S E RE CH H AS WOR KE D W IT H LU NA Z ORRO O WNER, MOLLY B E R RY, FOR A B OU T TWO YE A R S NOW. “ I SE L L MY WOR K AT E X PE N SIV E P R ICE S ,” S EREC H SAYS, “BU T, I’M HONEST A BO U T WH AT I ’M DOI NG.”

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M AT T IE K IDDER

LIDIA SE R E CH CU T Z A L WORKS AT HER FO OT LO OM IN H E R WOR K SH OP A ND H OME I N COMALAPA, G UAT EMA LA O N JA N. 12. T RA DIT IO NA LLY, ONLY ME N OP E R ATE TH E FOOT L OOM, BUT MOR E AND MO RE W OMEN HAVE LEA RNED IN RECE NT YE A R S.

implored her to return home to Comalapa. “I came back and my father was waiting for me,” Serech recalls. He knew about her boyfriend and gave her an ultimatum. “He had a whip and said, ‘You’re going to get married.’ I kneeled and begged my father, because I did not want to get married at 15.” He forced Serech to marry, before she could escape once more. For days on end, Serech haunted the streets of Comalapa, as her father’s reputation kept people from offering her a job, a roof, money to leave town or even food. “I had nowhere to stay. Sometimes I ate, sometimes I didn’t.” When her father found her, Serech refused to cooperate with him and return to her husband. She called the police, who claimed she must obey her father or go to jail. Holding out her upturned wrists in demonstration, Serech said, “I would prefer to go to jail.” The police handcuffed Serech and took her to jail. Before long the mayor of Comalapa got involved and asked the police officers and Serech’s father to release her. “My father

said, ‘I will sign the divorce papers. You can go this way or that way, but you are no longer my daughter,’ ” Serech recalls, leaning back against a sewing table, hands clasped as though the interwoven fingers were a capsule restraining her grief from seeping out. Once more she was without work, without a husband and without a family. For two years Serech wandered the streets, homeless. That’s when she met Esperanza, who helped her find employment as a housemaid for a woman named Josepha.“I know who your father is,’” Serech remembers Josepha saying. “I know he’s a bad man, but I’m not scared of him. You can stay with me and have a roof over your head. But, you have to earn your keep.’” Though her father and Josepha each died many years ago, Serech’s eyes flit back and forth behind her glasses as if their ghosts dance among her workshop’s wooden weaving instruments as she speaks. “Since we were little we were taught to weave,” Serech says. “Because of discrimination. Because our parents would not send us to school.”

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A LLEGRA B ERGER

LIDIA SEREC H C U T Z A L REMEMB E R S H E R PA ST OB STA C L E S A ND OP P ORTU NI TI E S AT H E R H OME I N C OMA L A PA, GU AT EMA LA ON JA N. 12. SHE H A S L I V E D I N C OMA L A PA A L L H E R L I FE . “ I H A D A SA D C H I L DH OOD,” SE R E CH REFLEC T S. “MY FAT HER WA S A STR I C T MA N.”

Serech began weaving when she was 8 years old. After just one year of school, Serech resigned herself to a life of weaving tablecloths and other textiles alongside her six sisters. “My father loved the boys more than the girls,” Serech says of her eight siblings. “We never had the love of our father. He never hugged or kissed us and when he came home we were afraid because he didn’t like noise.”

On mornings when her son goes to school, Serech rises early to cook tortillas with eggs in a kitchen with lime green cabinets. “I didn’t have an education,” says Serech. “But I want him to be a professional.”

For years after her estrangement with her father, Serech was almost completely isolated from her family. When her brothers and sisters informed her that their father was dying, Lidia felt overcome with guilt and rushed to his bedside to ask forgiveness. He granted it, but still she felt unsatisfied.

“He never cried. He was the perfect baby,” Serech says of the boy who now shares her last name. “I fell in love with him. I wanted to hold my head up high and that’s why I adopted him legally.”

As she raises her son, David Emanuel, Serech is slowly finding a way to reconcile her past by bringing up a child with the love and attention she never received. “I don’t like to punish him as long as he obeys the rules,” Serech said of the shy boy with sweeping black bangs and a gray and orange Nike hoodie, who watches and listens from across the room. “I don’t like the way I was raised. I want him to be a good man, a working man, a man with integrity.”

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Serech never thought she would adopt a child, but when she met 5-month-old David Emanuel, her preconceived notions dissolved.

David Emanuel knows he’s adopted, but rarely speaks of it. Once he asked to meet his birth mother and Serech consented. After the meeting, he looked to Lidia and said, “Even though you’re not my biological mother, you are my real mother and I love you.” When Serech was 20 years old, she left her home and job with Josepha and became a weaver and administrator for Milena Prim, owner of the Antigua textile companies Textura and Hilosophy. When a popular Antiguan


L I DI A SE R E C H C U TZA L P RE PARE S A S N ACK O F AV OC A DOE S WI TH SE A SA LT F O R H E RS E L F AN D H E R SON DAV I D E MA NU EL I N T H E K I T CH E N O F TH E I R H OME I N C OMA L APA, G UAT E M AL A O N J A N. 12. “ WE E AT SI MP L E T H I N G S , ” S E RE CH SH A R E S. “ I F WE H AV E AV OC AD O S W E E AT T H E M . ”

“Even though you’re not my biological mother, you are my real mother

ALLE GR A B ER GE R

and I love you.”

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MATTI E KI DDE R

L I DI A SE R E C H C U TZA L STR ATE GI C A L LY P L A NS OU T DE SI GNS I N P R E PA R ATI ON FOR WE AV I NG H E R TE X TI L E S I N TH E WOR K SH OP O F H E R H OME I N C OMA L A PA , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 12. SE R E C H S TART E D H E R OWN B U SI NE SS A FTE R TH E DE ATH OF H E R E MP L OYE R , J O RG E SA NTOS, I N 1991. “ I WA NT TO K E E P FI NDI NG NE W MA R K E TS,” SE R E C H SAYS, R E GA R DI NG H E R FU TU R E B U SI NE SS P L A NS.

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newspaper, Prensa Libre, featured Prem’s work, the businesswoman raved about her employee Serech, calling her special and hard working. Soon after the article was published, a man came to Serech’s workplace and said his boss would like to meet the woman mentioned in the article. Intrigued, Serech mustered her confidence and agreed. The next morning, she ventured to the boss’s address and rang the bell. Jorge Santos answered. A tall 25-year-old businessman dressed in a suit, Santos pushed his tailored, black coat sleeve to expose an expensive wristwatch, noting, “8 o’clock exactly. I like people like that. Black is black and white is white. You must be Lidia.” Santos suggested they walk while he explained his proposition. “I don’t trust women,” Santos began. “They are liars and gossips. We men aren’t like that. I want to see everything I’ve read in this article about you. I don’t know if I believe it.” He requested a sample of Serech’s work be delivered the next day, once more at 8 a.m. Serech consented. But when she punctually arrived and rang the doorbell, sample in hand, the next morning, Santos appeared shocked. A man who was supposed to deliver a similar sample that same day had failed to show. Santos started to question Serech about her finances and possessions, how much she made, if she owned a car, if she owned a house. “You can have all of those things if you work with me,” Santos promised. Serech knew she must take this opportunity and although her resignation angered

Prem at first, she quickly relented and guaranteed her doors would always be open if Serech ever chose to return. From that point on until Santos’s death in 1991, Serech worked as one of his most valued employees, with up to 60 weavers working under her, creating textiles to sell in the United States. “It’s because of him, I have a house and a car and a business.” Santos’s unexpected death quickly derailed his company. But for Serech, a new life began. Never again would she take orders from a man. Never again would she labor for strictly for the namesake of someone else’s business. In the wake of tragedy, Serech blossomed. As an independent businesswoman, dealing with high-end, custom-order clients, Serech possesses great pride in her work. “Lidia is the most expensive artisan I work with,” says client Berry, who typically rotates between three different families to create her designs. She recalls once paying $200 to Serech for a king size bedspread. She feared retailers would not want to buy a product that expensive for wholesale. But, to Berry’s surprise, a retailer in California paid $400 for Serech’s handiwork, and resold the bedspread for $1,250. “[My competitor’s] product is expendable,” Serech says of weavers who use cheaper threads and damaging chemicals. “It falls apart after a couple of uses. My product is expensive.” Serech’s work and success has resulted in many opportunities throughout the years. She taught herself to read. She traveled to the United States several times, once on a 5-month university scholarship to learn business. Another time, a man approached her as she walked through the

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M AT T IE K IDDE R

D AV ID E M M ANUE L H ELPS HIS MOT HER LIDIA SEREC H C U T ZA L H A NG U P H E R B A C K STR A P L OOM AT TH E I R H OME A ND W OR KSH OP IN COM ALA PA , GU AT EMA LA ON JA N. 12. SEREC H L E GA L LY A DOP TE D H I M 13 YE A R S A GO. “ H E WA NTS TO W OR K FOR MOLLY AT LU NA Z O RRO SOMEDAY,” SEREC H SAYS.

streets of Antigua with a basket of textiles on her head. In admiration of her designs he put her in touch with the Guatemalan government, which funded 85 percent of the expenses for a textile showcasing trip to Venezuela. Serech also uses her success to empower young people seeking an education. “When we have a lot of work, we contract students who are on vacation because they need money to keep studying next year,” Serech said, who places great value on helping others receive the education she could not.

Serech’s life, like the textiles she creates, began as a hollow, shapeless loop of thread. Over the years her story was spun and twisted, ordered and reordered, thread, sewn and woven into something entirely different, a creation unique, beautiful and altogether transformed. When asked what she enjoys best about her business and life as an artisan, Serech pauses thoughtfully and clasps her small, tough fingers together. “Everything.” STORY DE SI GN B Y MATTI E K I DDE R

L I D I A’ S T I M E L I N E

1966 1958 Lidia was born

Lidia wove her first piece of fabric

1975 1973 In the same year she, at the age of 15, was forced to marry and ran away

Lidia was employed by Josepha at age 17

1991 1984 Started working for Jorge Santos

Santos died an unexpected death

2004 Lidia adopted her son David Emanuel

S OUR CE : LI DI A SE R E ACH

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DAVID EMA NU EL OPENS TH E GA R A GE DO OR FO R SEREC H A S TH E MOTH E R A ND SO N GET REA DY TO GO TO TH E MA RKET IN T HEIR T O YOTA R AV 4 I N C OMA LA PA , GU AT EMA L A ON J A N. 12. DAVID EMA NU EL C O MP L E TE D TH E SIXT H GRA DE LA ST YEA R A ND E NJ OYS PLAYING BA SKET BA LL . “ I WA NT H I M T O BE A GO OD MA N, A WOR K I NG MA N, A MA N W IT H I NTE GR I TY,” SE R E C H SAYS.

NATALY BASTER RE CHE A

M AT T IE K IDD E R

MOL LY B E R RY, O W N E R OF L U NA ZORRO , C OL L A B OR AT E S W I T H L I DI A SE R E C H CUT Z AL TO DI SC U SS F UT URE TE X TI L E I DE AS AT SE R E A C H ’S W O RK S H O P I N C OMA L A PA , GU ATE MA L A O N JAN . 12. “ I NE V E R H AVE T O WONDE R I F L I D I A’ S C R E ATI ONS W I L L FAL L A PA RT,” B E R RY S AY S .

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ALLE GR A B ER GE R

VAN E S SA MA RT INEZ WE AV E S U SING A BACK-ST RA P LO OM IN TH E M ERC A DO DE ARTE S A NIA S IN SA N AN TONIO A GU A S CALIE NT ES, GU AT EMA LA ON J AN. 9. MA RT INEZ WOV E HER FIRST H UIP IL WHEN SHE WAS 7 -YEA RS- O LD.

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Threads that bind Like their ancestors, Vanessa Martinez and her family weave and sell Mayan textiles. But Vanessa dreams of a life that goes beyond traditions. by ALAYNA HOY

W

Martinez wove her first huipil when she was 7 years old. Three more followed at the ages of 11, 15 and 18. But even while she continues the weaving tradition of her grandmother, mother and sisters, Martinez also pioneers her own way in life. She is the only daughter in her family to graduate from high school, enabling her to manage the family’s business stall at the market and work at a local hotel.“I am a weaver and a retailer, because I have to know what I’m selling in order to sell,” Martinez explains. “There are some retailers who don’t know how to weave, but everything in my store is made by me and by my family.” Martinez’s family, home and workspace is a 13-minute uphill cobblestone walk away. Lines of freshly laundered jeans and red T-shirts dangle among pots of foliage and unlit string lights, creating a porous canopy of sunlight and shade at least a foot above the heads of Vanessa’s mother, Elma Liria Sotz, and two older sisters, 33-year-old Leidy Amar-

E SMI DA MA I DE MA RTI NE Z DI SP L AYS H E R WE AV I NG SU P P L I E S I N H E R H OME I N SA N A NTONI O A GU A S C A L I E NTE S, GU ATE MA L A O N JAN . 9 . TH E 33- YE A R - OL D I S TH E E L DE ST DA U GH TE R I N H E R FA M I LY.

MATTI E KI DDE R

The two-story, open-roof textile market holds more than 20 vendors just like Martinez, selling and weaving huipilles – a traditional Mayan blouse – and other accessories in designs specific to San Antonio, Guatemala.

NATA LY B A S T ERREC H EA

ith a tie-dye Jansport backpack layered over a navy Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt, 27-year-old Vanessa Martinez stands out like a daffodil in a rose garden amidst the traditional, authentically woven clothing sold at the Mercado de Artesanías in San Antonio Aguas Calientes.“l was going to wear a huipil today, but I forgot,” she says with a laugh.

L E I DY A MA R I L I S MA RTI NE Z SH OWC A SE S ONE H E R H A NDM AD E TE X TI L E S WH I L E E SMI DA MA I DE MA RTI NE Z WATC H E S H E R M O T H E R WE AV E I N TH E I R H OME I N SA N A NTONI O A GU A S C A L I E N T E S , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 9. SA N A NTONI O I S K NOWN FOR HUI P I L E S WOV E N ON B OTH SI DE S. “ P E OP L E C OME H E R E TO SA N A N T O N I O FOR H U I P I L E S FOR WE DDI NGS, QU I NC E A ÑE R A S A ND SP E CI AL OC C A SI ONS,” L E I DY SAYS. “ TH I S WOR K I S V E RY SP E C I A L . ”

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ilis and 36-year-old Esmida Maide. The Martinez family’s tin-wall, open-roof courtyard doubles as a work space for the three bustling women, who weave the clothes Martinez sells at the market. Their creations take shape in the style of the magenta and violet huipiles now covering their flexing forearms and laughing bellies.

a detail-oriented process which can take up to 8 months of counting and sorting the threads, organizing them in pattern order, and utilizing wooden instruments to weave the textiles by hand. Huipiles will sell for a final price near 5,000 quetzales, or approximately $665.

Huipiles are Elma’s favorite garment to weave, but as her sight fades she now focuses on table centerpieces, like the tan threads she weaves today.“My grandma taught my mom to weave, she taught me and I taught my children,” Sotz explains, as she caresses a huipil her grandmother weaved nearly a century ago. “Our ancestors taught us all of this. But for us it is like painting. We are inspired.”

“My grandma taught my mom to weave, she taught me and I taught my children” – Elma Martinez

Most weaving cities in Guatemala possess a distinct pattern or style of huipil which is indicative of their geographical region and survives on the basis of town pride and the continuation of the trade from one generation to the next. In San Antonio Aguas Calientes, huipiles are woven on both sides, a specialized rarity which requires additional time and work.“San Antonio huipils are most expensive because they have two sides,” Vanessa Martinez explains. “What we charge is the time we put into it.”

ALLE GR A B ER GE R

Huipiles require the more time to weave than fajas, cortes, table centerpieces, purses or wallets. They require

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While Martinez functions as the face of the family’s company in the market, the three women back home are the muscles, spine and soul behind many of the colorful textiles.“Leidy and I were not forced to drop out of school,” shares eldest sister, Esmida, who is married with three sons. “But the family did not have many resources, so we chose to drop out to weave ... Our mother always said she didn’t have to drag Vanessa to school, she was excited to go,” Esmida says, squinting into a ray of sun. “I wish I could have graduated.”

VA NE SSA MA RT I N E Z B E G I N S ONE OF TH E F I RS T S T E P S O F TH E WE AV I NG P RO CE S S I N H E R H OME I N S AN AN T O N I O A GU A S C A L I EN T E S , GU ATE MA L A O N JAN . 9 . WE AV I NG A H UI P I L TAK E S A P P R OX I MAT E LY E I G H T MONTH S. “ I T TAK E S A L O T OF E NE R GY T O W E AVE A H U I P I L ,” MA RT I N E Z S AY S .


M AT T IE K IDDER

E L MA L I D I A S O T Z P RE S E N T S H E R GR AN D M O T H E R’ S N E ARLY 100 YE A R-O L D H UI P I L I N S AN A NTONI O, G UAT E M AL A O N JAN . 9. SOT Z TAUG H T H E R T H RE E DA U GH T E RS T O W E AVE W H E N TH E Y W E RE CH I L D RE N . “ O UR A NC E STOR S TAUG H T US AL L O F T H I S , ” S O T Z S AY S .

HUIPIL

The traditional, woven blouse of the Mayans. The details of its design indicates the village or region where it was woven.

FA J A

A woven belt, found in Guatemala and styled in the Mayan tradition.

CORTE

A woven, Mayan skirt. Often held up by a faja.

BACK-STRAP LOOM

A common weaving device, generally operatback of the weaver on one end and a concrete object on the other.

FOOT LOOM

A faster alternative to the back-strap loom, typically used by male weavers to fashion textiles.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, Martinez weaves and sells the family’s textiles at Casa de Santo Domingo, one of Antigua’s most expensive resorts. Martinez braves the half-hour drive on bumpy dirt roads into Antigua’s crowded cobblestone to capitalize on the town’s tourist market. An elderly couple, who grew fond of Martinez’s weaving capabilities and work ethic, paved the way for Martinez to sell her wares at this pricy locale. As exotic birds squawk relentlessly above, she works with two other artisans selling woven goods to tourists. Martinez shifts weight from one aquamarine Converse to another, reflecting on where these shoes have tread. “I had an amazing experience,” Martinez says of her public high school education. “But at the same time I feel very sad when I think about it. I stayed because our family had the economic resources, but I felt guilty.” Although Martinez treasures her education as the means by which she can organize the finances and understand the workings of the business, she recounts “having all her family and serving God” as her life’s greatest blessings, rather than her schoolwork.

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F R OM LE F T TO R IGH T, ESMIDA M AID E M ARTINE Z, LADY A MA RILIS M ARTIN E Z, AND E LM A LIDIA SO T Z P O S E WITH TH E IR H ANDMA DE TE XTILE S AT TH E IR H OME IN SA N AN TON IO, GUATE M ALA O N JA N. 9 . T H E WOM E N WOR K T HREE H O UR S E ACH MOR NING A ND TH R E E H OUR S E ACH A FT ERNOON, W E AV IN G H UIP ILE S.

Yet, in a nation where a mother’s average age when she first gives birth is 20.3 years – according the CIA World Factbook – and an industry which relies on the preservation of family tradition, Vanessa currently maintains no plans for getting married or having children. “Family is beautiful,” Martinez says, but not for her. Not now. Martinez has family in the United States. Her brother and uncle live and work in Los Angeles, and have asked her to join them. “I want to travel soon,” Martinez shares. “I want to go there and sell textiles. But I also want to spend time with my parents.” The hotel birds shriek and the sun alternately brightens and dims, playing hide and seek behind puffy white clouds. Martinez’s two co-workers resituate woven wallets and adjust colorfully threaded purses, pretending not to listen. “I want to help my family financially and return to them what they have given me,” Martinez says, as the skin above her almond-colored eyes crinkles in concentration. “You can want a lot of things, but God has the final say.”

ALL EG RA BE RG ER

NATA LY B A S T ERREC H EA

STORY DE SI GN B Y MATTI E K I DDE R

ESMIDA MA IDE MA RT INEZ L I STE NS TO H E R MOTH E R SH A R E T HEIR FA MILY’S T EXT ILE T R A DI TI ONS I N SA N A NTONI O, GU AT EMA LA O N JA N. 9. “T H E DE SI GNS A R E TH E MOST DIFFIC U LT,” ESMIDA SAYS. “ WE H AV E TO B E V E RY C R E ATI V E . WE GET INSPIRED A ND C H OOSE TH E C OL OR S A S WE GO.”

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NATALY BASTER RE CHE A

VA N E S S A M ARTINE Z POSES IN HER S TA LL AT TH E S AN ANT ONIO A GU A S C A LIE NTE S ME R CADO DE A RT ESA NIA S IN S AN ANTONIO, G UAT EMA LA O N JA N. 9. M A RTINE Z GR ADUATED HIGH SC HO OL, T HE O NLY OF H E R SIS TE R S T O DO SO. “I A M G RATE FUL TO G OD F O R T HE C REAT IO NS I A M ABLE TO M AKE ,” MA RT INEZ SAYS.

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MOR GAN P ETE RSON


‘Girl boss’ Cristha Fuentes might only be 22, but her shoe designs outsell her age. by ABBY PETERSEN

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ristha Fuentes sips a Coca-Cola on the terrace of Luna de Miel in Antigua, Guatemala. She sports pineapple earrings under waves of dark brown hair and a yellow planner peeks out of her purse. But her secret is under the table – size 7.5 brown, handmade chukkas, designed by Fuentes herself. At age 22, Fuentes runs her own fashion brand with more than 13,000 followers on Facebook. She grabs a cup of coffee and drives from her family’s four-bedroom condominium in Guatemala City to Antigua more than three times a week where she ships shoes across the country and the United States. Her tagline, which she attaches to all her designs, reads “shoes with soul.” Her work started after she was 18 when a friend invited her to share her designs at a craft market in Guatemala City. Before the day was over, Fuentes

had a list of people who wanted to buy her designs. Since then, the requests keep coming. Fuentes makes an effort to be socially conscious and supports causes, such as Breast Cancer Awareness, for which 60 percent of the profits from her $225 pink oxford shoes go. “I wanted that for once we as girls could finally join and fight against something that is bigger than ourselves,” Fuentes said. She also makes her products from locally sourced materials, such as leather from Quetzaltenango. Designs are produced at three different warehouses in Guatemala City that employ seven to eight people each.

“She’s a girl boss.” – Sergio “Checho” Najera

“I want to empower women through my shoes,” Fuentes said. In one day, Fuentes shipped 30 pairs of shoes to Florida from UTZ Market, a shipping nonprofit in Antigua. Fuentes doesn’t

CR ISTH A FUE NTES PO SES AT C ENT RO MU NIC IPA L DE E MP R E N D IMIE N TO IN GU AT EMA LA C IT Y ON JA N. 11. TH IS P R OG R AM WA S DESIGNED T O HELP ENT REPRENEU R S LIKE F UE NTE S . C ME HELPED FU ENT ES STA RT HER C A RE E R TH R E E Y E AR S AGO .

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M ORGA N PET ERS ON

“I want to empower women through my shoes.” – Christha Fuentes

CRISTHA FUENTES WHERE TO B UY D ESI G N S: utzmarket.com/collections/ cristha-fuentes IN S TAGRAM : @cristhadesign

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C RIST H A FU E NTE S SH OWS OFF H E R PINK OX FOR DS OU TSI DE OF SI MP L E , A ST O R E I N GU ATE MA L A C I TY TH AT SELLS H E R DE SI GNS. 60 P E R C E NT OF T HE PROFI TS FR OM TH E OX FOR DS GO T O WA R D SU P P ORTI NG TH E NATI ONA L BREA ST C A NC E R FU ND. “ B Y DONATI NG MO NEY TO TH I S C A U SE I ’M OP E NI NG DOORS FOR WOME N WH O A C TU A L LY NEED I T,” FU E NTE S SA I D. P H OTO B Y A BBY PE TE R SE N.

always get to see who the shoes go to, but she likes to give her customers a face, like the time she saw a girl outside Guatemala City wearing boots she designed.“She’s a girl boss,” UTZ team member Sergio “Checho” Nájera said. When Fuentes was 19 she pitched her idea to Centro Municipal de Emprendimiento, a program designed to help early entrepreneurs reach their goals. Fuentes received training in marketing at CME and was introduced to other startups such as UTZ. Fuentes regards


M OR GA N P T E R S ON

CR IS TH A FUE NTES P OINTS TO ON E OF HER H ANDMAD E LE AT HER P UR SE S IN TR E SORELLE IN GUATE M ALA CIT Y ON J AN. 1 1 . F UE NTES SELLS H E R M E R CH ANDISE IN TH R E E STOR E S A RO U ND GUATE M ALA.

former CME director Roberto Mayen as the most influential to her career. She received her degree in product design in 2016 and plans to devote the rest of her time to achieving a bachelor’s in administration and expanding her designs. “I think I owe most of my confidence here [at CME],” Fuentes said. At Tre Sorelle in Proceres mall in Guatemala City, Fuentes’ purses peek out from behind pairs of heels and sneakers. Fuentes’ most popular purse,

MO RGA N PET ERS ON

TH R E E WOR KE R S FRO M UTZ M AR KE T SH I PPING COMPAN Y P R E PARE T O MAIL A PACKAG E ON J AN. 1 0 . F UE NTES U SES TH IS S TARTUP SHIPPING COMPAN Y TO S HIP HER P R OD UCTS DUE T O T HEIR AFF OR DABLE P R IC ES. “OUR ID E A IS TO BEC OME TH E G UATE MALAN AM AZON. TO H AVE P R E TTY MUCH ALL OF TH E SALE S TH AT GO O U T OF GUATE M ALA PA SS TH R OUG H OUR HA NDS,” UTZ TE AM ME M B ER S E R GIO “CH E CH O ” NÁJ E R A SAID .

a mixture of leather and traditional Guatemalan cloth, sells for 790 quetzales, or about $105. The shop is one of three stores in Guatemala City that sell Fuentes’ designs. “[Customers] come here to search the designs of Cristha,” shop owner Brenda Mendoza said. Before Fuentes leaves, the shop owners ask for a picture.“I believe the best form to help people here in Guatemala is to give them jobs,” Fuentes said.

“I believe the best form to help people here in Guatemala is to give them jobs.” – Cristha Fuentes

A RT ICL E DE SI GN B Y B E TH DA H L I N

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TI M HECK


Speaking truth to power Mayor Susana Asensio attempts to establish trust in Antigua, after years of corrupt politicians. by CALLIE SCHMIDT

S

usana Asensio strolls through the crowd at a press conference Jan. 11, stopping to pose at cameras and shake children’s hands. She stands with perfect posture, smiling when she needs to and returning to a stoic frown when cameras aim away from her. Asensio steps into the circle of Taiwanese journalists, joining President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales and

President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen to pose for a picture. A former architect and Antigua native, Asensio became the first female mayor of Antigua Jan. 15, 2016, making her one of the nine female mayors in Guatemala out of 338, according to Tribunal Supremo Electoral. Despite only occupying the office of mayor for one year, she receives criticism from citizens of Antigua.

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C A RLO H OLM B ERG

G UATE M ALAN P R E S IDENT JIMMY MORA LES AN D TAIWAN E S E P R E SIDENT T SA I INGW E N S TR OLL TH R OUGH T HE ST REET S O F AN TIGUA, GUATE M ALA . A NT IGU A MAYO R S U SAN A ASE N SIO IS T HE FIRST FEMA LE M AY OR OF TH E TOWN.

Elizabeth Bell, Antigua Tours owner and resident of Antigua since 1969, has known Asensio for 45 years.

gua thought Asensio could fix everything in two years. Asensio will occupy the position of Mayor until 2020.

“She’s been criticized because she’s gracious. That is really a gender issue. They also put on her Facebook how wrinkled she looks. If a man were wrinkled, he wouldn’t be mentioned,” Bell said.

A week after the press conference, Asensio tugs on the bottom of her clean white blazer, her black-rimmed glasses resting on her head. Her hands riffle through paperwork and manilla folders at the city council meeting Jan. 16. Her right hand supports her chin, a golden ring glimmering from the fluorescent lights from the chandelier above. Street vendors step up to the mic.

Bell explained another source of criticism stems from how citizens of Anti-

“They say she’s too nice. I’ve never heard that about a guy.” – Elizabeth Bell

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Two women dressed in sweatshirts and jeans stand in front of Asensio and the city council. They attempt to appeal the committee’s decision on banning street vendors. The two women express how they have been selling for eighteen years at the park named Tanque de La Unión. They ask why they are being forcefully removed

from their work spaces when they have complied to the municipality’s new laws regarding food stands. They ask Asensio if they could sell their goods the next day. Unwavered by the presence of over fifteen family members, friends and other street vendors attending the hearing, Asensio sticks to her first resolve. Her voice never changes, whether she speaks of municipality properties, street vendors, ecology or legal problems. Asensio’s eyes lit up as she stood next to the President of Taiwan and the President of Guatemala. But sitting in the tallest dark wooden chain on Monday night, she blinks rapidly to keep herself awake. Asensio motions the city council members to return from break with the flick of her wrist. She directs the flow of conversation, telling both


council members and citizens of Antigua when they have been talking about a point for too long.

Elected in 2015, Sandra Morán Reyes is the first self-proclaimed feminist and lesbian to occupy one of the 158 seats in the Congress of Guatemala. According to Latin Correspondent, Morán set up Guatemala’s first lesbian collective in 1995 and participated in the organization of the country’s first gay pride parade in 1998.

C A LLI E S C H M I D T

Although Guatemala largely remains a male-dominated society with conservative values, female politicians and activists other than Asensio have been gaining momentum.

A 2012 study by George Washington State University suggests that homophobia remains deeply embedded within the social fabric of Guatemala. According to the survey, 74 percent of Guatemalans said they would not vote for a homosexual political candidate. Morán and Asensio persevere despite pushback due to gender issues.

CALLI E S C H M IDT

S TORY DESIGN BY A LLEGRA RO SE BERGER TR AN SLAT ION A ND A DDIT IO NA L REPORT ING BY CHA NTA L SO LDINI.

TOP : ANTIGU A MAYO R SU SA NA A SENSIO ESC O RT S TAIWAN DIGNITA RIES T HRO U GH A NT IGU A 'S STR E E T S NEA R C ENT RA L PA RK. M ID DLE: ANTIGU A RESIDENT S A ND ST REET VENDORS E XIT THE C IT Y C OU NC IL MEET ING IN CITY HA LL ON JA N. 16. A NT IGU A MAYO R SUSANA A SENSIO DID NOT GIVE T HE ST REET V E N D ORS A DEFINIT E A NSWER FOR WH E N O R WHERE T HEY C O U LD STA RT SE LLING A GA IN.

CALLI E SCHMI DT

BOTTO M: ANTIGU A MAYO R SU SA NA A SENSIO REST S TWO FINGERS BY HER MOU T H A S SHE SIT S IN TH E C IT Y C OU NC IL MEET ING IN C IT Y HA L L ON J AN. 16. A SENSIO , FO RMER A RC HIT EC T, BE CAME T HE FIRST FEMA LE MAYO R OF ANTIGU A O N JA N. 15, 2016 A ND W ILL HO LD TH IS PO SIT ION U NT IL JA NU A RY 2020.

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The love hour Guatemalan native Isabela Sagastuy offers an insider’s perspective on love, relationships and public displays of affection in one of Guatemala’s most romantic cities: Antigua. by ISABELA SAGASTUY

O

h boy, we all love romance. I remember as if it was yesterday when that teenager with pimples on his face asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I love romance. The flowers, the first kiss, that feeling you get when your special someone sends a text. As in any culture, romantic relationships are important in Guatemala. I studied at a girls-only school for 15 years. Imagine the conversations I had! The topics varied between who kissed who at Friday’s party and who broke up with who. This country is filled with Cupid’s arrows. You can’t walk a

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block in Antigua without seeing a couple kissing or tickling each other in the middle of the rocky streets. Sitting on a bench in any park, you will probably see people laying in the grass, making out or watching the clouds while holding hands. I myself have been guilty of displaying public affection. I had smooching sessions with my high school sweetheart once or twice during school fairs and at quinceañera parties. Are you afraid of PDA? Don’t come to Antigua! We asked young Guatemalans about love life and the steps to take if you want to be with someone. This is what we found.


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KE NDALL SODER STR OM


1

He will approach. It might be in a club, or in a coffee shop. Maybe in the park, or at the market. Anyway, if you are exchanging glances with a guy, he will eventually come to you. He will say hi and probably ask, “Do you want a drink?”

2

She will show off her dance moves. Yes. You have to invite her to dance. Guatemalans love partying. So be prepared for a spin or two while you are dancing reggaeton or even cumbia.

3

He will use a little “casaca,” the Guatemalan word to describe when you try to seduce someone with words. At this point the guy will tell you what he does for a living, his address, his last name and he will try to see if you have any friends in common. This is the moment when he will try to convince you that he is worthy of your time.

4

She will give you her phone number. After you have danced and talked for a while you must ask, “Can I get your phone number?” If she says yes, consider it a win. “If and only if the night goes well, and she seems a little interesting, I will ask her for her number,” Carlos, a young Guatemalan, said. “And if you are a gentleman, you won’t kiss on the first night.”

5

He will text. Don’t make her wait for too long. She will be waiting for that WhatsApp message. You want to seem interested but not desperate. So when the right time comes by, send a nice and friendly “hola.”

6

She will text back. Be a little flirty, but not too much. Use smiley faces, but be careful with emojis, it might make you seem too intense! Take your time to answer! Make him laugh. Always end with a question so the conversation can continue. If you do well, expect him to add you on Snapchat and Instagram and consider it a win when he adds you on Facebook.

7

He will ask you on a first date. He will invite you to coffee or to a casual dinner. Boys, bring her flowers. Pick her up at her house. Go to the door and ring the bell, you don’t want her parents to think you are rude. Dress nicely, use cologne and let her see how handsome and formal you are.

8 9

The first kiss. It might happen after the first date. Enjoy the moment. Don’t rush.

Time to show some PDA my friend. At this point in the relationship he might introduce you to his friends. Maybe even the parents. Anyway, this is when all the holding hands, tickling and public love scenes happen. Get ready for kissing. A lot of kissing.

10

He will ask. A few months have passed. You know each other well, your priorities, lifestyles and dreams. You know each other’s address, university, GPA and you have stalked each other on every social media platform all the back to the year 2009. You are ready to take the next step. So be prepared for a romantic dinner, maybe a getaway to Hobbitenango or to the lake. He will hold your hand, look you in the eye and ask: would you want to be my girlfriend?

ST O RY DESIGN B Y K E NDA L L SODE R STR OM

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KEN DALL SODER STR OM

MIR ANDA W EI PP E RT

M IRA NDA W EIPPERT

C OU P L E S E MB R A C E A ND R OMA NC E I N TH E STR E E TS OF A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A TH R OU GH TH E MONTH OF J A NU A RY. P U B L I C DI SP L AYS OF A FFE C TI ON A R E C OMMONP L A C E I N GU ATE MA L A N C U LTU R E .

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Fashion for a reason Jess Bercovici opened Antigua design company, Stela 9, to create fashionable clothes through ethical collaboration with Guatemalan artisans.

ALLE G RA R OSE BE RG ER

by ALAYNA HOY

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J E SS B E R C OV I C I P OSE S WI T H H E R DOG B R U NE R ON T H E R OOFTOP OF STE L A 9 A I R B N B A ND B OU TI QU E OV E R L OOK I N G A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A O N J A N. 13. B E R C OV I C I MOV E D T O GU ATE MA L A A DE C A DE A G O , A ND FOU NDE D STE L A 9 TH R E E YE A R S L ATER.


A

silent flock of black birds soar over Stela 9’s courtyard, carving a rout through the warm impending dusk. Owner of the Antiguan design boutique and Air B’n’B, Jess Bercovici, sits alone at a wooden table painted lavender, cradling her chin in her left hand and clicking a laptop mouse pad with her right. An hour after closing time, Bercovici awaits her final guest of the evening, as the glow of her Mac laptop gradually illuminates the contours of her face and newly grown pixie-cut. A knock on the thick, lacquered front door sends Bercovici’s dogs, Bruner and Ito, into a barking frenzy, piercing the twilight quietude like an out-of-reach alarm clock. Bercovici softly scolds the two dogs, half jogging across the courtyard to unlock the door for her guest, Guatemalan seamstress and Stela 9 collaborator, Irma Chuy Gómez. The women smile and hug, as soft and familiar Spanish greetings replace the canine howling. The dogs know this is not a stranger. Bercovici started designing clothing under the Stela 9 label seven years ago on the fashion retail website, Etsy. The design company quickly metamorphosed into an international wholesale enterprise with more than 450 accounts. Named for a Mayan monument with spiritual significance, California-born Bercovici designed Stela 9 in hopes that every aspect of the company would reflect Guatemalan inspiration and contribution, including the hands which create the products. Before she met Bercovici three years, Gómez worked in a textile factory and sewing uniforms. When Bercovici began requesting custom designs, Gómez quit her job at the factory to work as a custom order seamstress, almost exclusively for Stela 9.

“Irma is very loving,” Bercovici says of Gómez. “She’s a sweetheart, but she’s also tough. She’s running a business and raising three kids. If Irma doesn’t get something right the first time she always gets it right the second.” In addition to Gómez, Stela 9 thrives on regular collaboration with four other Guatemalan artisans, as well as employees of a cafe on Stela 9’s property. During business hours at Stela 9, a wobbly toddler pushes a blue broom twice his height across the tile of the courtyard, imitating the whirring noise of a vacuum cleaner as he sweeps. His mother and cafe chef, Jo Eguiguren, smiles down at him as she sprays and wipes the white tile of the front counter.

“People don’t understand these [huipiles] should be worth sometimes more than $1,000” – Jess Bercovici

“Jess is so gentle,” Equiguren says. “So kind. So helpful. Because I have a child, not many places would let me bring him to work. This is the first time I have worked with a woman who empowers me while I empower her.” Equiguren has worked at Stela 9 for six months. She’s witnessed many changes, such as Bercovici’s company undergoing a significant downsizing transformation in response to medical complications. In February 2016, Bercovici received a brain cancer diagnosis. She underwent chemotherapy in the United States and

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A LL EGR A ROS E B ERGER

decided to minimize and refocus Stela 9, starting with her smallest in-store and online retail collection to date. Ultimately, she downsized her wholesale production almost entirely to custom orders, typically completed independently of the Stela 9 label.

J E SS B E R C OV I C I GATH E R S H E R FU C H SI A TE X TI L E SA MP L E ON H E R GR E E N WOODE N P I C NI C TA B L E I N TH E STE L A 9 A I R B NB C OU RTYA R D I N A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 13. “ MY GOA L E V E RY SE A SON I S TO C R E ATE P R OJ E C TS TH AT A R E SU STA I NA B L E ,” B E R C OV I C I SAYS.

“With Jess I have been able to pay for the education of my children.” – Irma Chuy Gómez

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After returning to her Antigua home and business following treatment, Bercovici does not plan to seek inspiration or residence elsewhere. Cancer or no cancer, Bercovici is here to stay. As one of the first foreign entities to own a wholesale and retail clothing company in Antigua, Bercovici admits she made mistakes and needed to adapt quickly as she formed the template newer companies would follow. In 2011 Anthropologie contracted Stela 9 to design and generate an order of bags utilizing traditional Mayan textiles, huipiles. But weaving huipiles requires a great deal of time, with the amount of fabric comprising a single blouse requiring up to four months to create. Anthropologie felt this was time they couldn’t afford. The plan quickly devolved into buying pre-made huipiles cheaply and cutting them up to use in the newly designed bags. “People don’t understand these [huipiles] should be worth sometimes more than $1,000,” Bercovici said. “For example, at Lake Atitlan, people are so financially restricted they are forced to sell their textiles for cheap. I didn’t realize it at first, but that order made me change what I was doing.” After her work with Anthropologie, Bercovici decided she would make fair pricing a priority if she ever repurposed pre-made huipiles. Stela 9 now tries to purchase and reuse the textiles from damaged, unwearable huipiles, turning scrap material into bags. Bercovici offers income to artisans without requiring them to sacrifice generations-old and still-functional huipiles. Bercovici invited Irma Gómez to Stela 9 after closing to discuss more than just textiles. After Stela 9’s downsizing, Bercovici worries Gómez may need additional work to supplement her income and hopes to propose additional work with a company similar to Stela 9.


B E R CO VI CI O RG AN I Z E S H E R SHO P AT T H E S T E L A 9 B OU TI Q UE I N AN T I G UA, GU ATE M AL A O N JAN . 1 3 . TH I S YE A R S H E D E S I G N E D H E R SMA L L E S T CO L L E CT I O N T O D AT E .

M O L LY B E R R Y Molly Berry is one wholesale designer in Antigua who followed in Stela 9’s footsteps of ethical, crosscultural collaboration. Berry’s home goods and clothing company, Luna Zorro, primarily partners with three Guatemalan artisan families.

ALLE GR A R OSE BE RG E R

“I don’t know one thing about weaving,” Berry said. “I can’t do it without them. I’m using them for their skill and they’re using me for my access to an international market, but we’re doing it in a collaborative, respectful way.”

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She now drafts contracts for her five primary artisan collaborators, forbidding them to copy and resell her designs. But, Bercovici also takes a vested interest in providing proficient work and compensation for the women and men. Stela 9’s website features ‘Meet the Makers’ video which highlights some of the Guatemalan artisans Bercovici has worked with. Some viewers of the video criticized Bercovici. One commenter called her a gringa, accusing her of taking advantage of the Guatemalan people. Bercovici responded to the commenter clarifying and defending her intentions. “I started my business because of Guatemala,” wrote Bercovici, who moved to Guatemala from California 10 years ago as an architect, transitioning to entrepre-

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Gómez married when she was 17 years old and is the mother of four children, as well as the principal breadwinner for her family. When she worked at the factory, she longed to learn more about traditional textiles. Her husband offered to pay for an apprenticeship in weaving and later for an additional course in Antigua, to learn the specifics of elaborate custom designs. Her husband, who used to work in the textile factory as well, now works as a municipal plumber. “He doesn’t earn as much,” says Gómez. “He is grateful I can do this and support the family.” Bercovici claims many foreignly owned clothing companies in Guatemala place artisans in a difficult position. In the name of collaboration, they target artisans who work with original design companies such as Stela 9, asking artisans to replicate other company’s designs instead of supplying their own. Bercovici cited two local companies that copied Stela 9’s designs by working with the same artisans. One company blocked her on social media to hide their theft, claims Bercovici.

GÓME Z A ND B E R C OV I C I C OL L A B OR ATE ON A N E V E NI NG WOR K SE SSI ON TO GO OV E R TE X TI L E DE SI GNS I N B E R C OV I C I ’S OFFI C E AT TH E STE L A 9 A I R B NB I N A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 13. “ SH E TE L L S ME WH AT E V E RYTH I NG C OSTS A ND I NE V E R FI GH T H E R ON I T,” B E R C OV I C I SAYS.

neurial design after three years of residency. She located Stela 9 in Guatemala and intentionally employs Guatemalan artisans to build cross-cultural collaborations. “A lot,” says Gómez. That’s how much collaborating with Stela 9 benefits her and her family. Her daughter graduates high school this year, an opportunity she ascribes to her employment with Stela 9. Bercovici smiles softly as she absorbs Gómez’s story under the soft glow of light bulbs decorating the Stela 9 workshop. “My goal is to highlight Guatemalan weaving, embroidery and techniques in a fashionable way,” Bercovici reflects. “That’s what makes Stela 9 successful.” STORY DE SI GN B Y A L L E GR A R OSE B E R GE R TR A NSL ATI ON B Y R A FA E L PA R R A


ALLE G RA R OSE BE R GE R

B E R C OV I C I P OSES I N T H E SU NL I GH T R E FL E C TE D F RO M T H E SH A DOWS OF TH E P L A N T S T H AT H A NG I N TH E C OU RT YARD O F TH E STE L A 9 A I R B NB I N AN T I G UA, GU ATE MA L A ON JAN . 1 3 .

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KE NDALL SODER ST ROM

A life written in ink Guatemalan tattoo culture differs from that of the U.S. Artist Carlos Wolfos proves that although tattoos are permanent, they shouldn’t define a person, no matter their culture. by MIRANDA WEIPPERT & MCKENZIE VAN LOH

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LE FT: TATTOO ART IST C A RLO S WOLFOS RO LLS HIS JEA NS TO E XP OSE H IS COLLEC T IO N OF TAT T O OS IN T HE SMA LL L OB B Y OF AN TIGUA TATTOO IN A NT IGU A , GU AT EMA LA O N JA N. 13. H I S FI R ST TATTOO OF A WOLF DISPLAYS IT SELF O N HIS RIGHT SHOU L DE R .

In Guatemala City, tattoos may lead to unwanted trouble with gangs or police officers. However, in the tourist town of Antigua, Wolfos can reveal his 25 tattoos without worry, allowing him to make a living off of his favorite art form. Wolfos walks to work wearing a red T-shirt, tatted arms, a short, twisted beard and smoothed, black braided hair. After putting the key into the padlock, the two black wooden shop doors swing open. Grabbing a broom for one hand and a pan for the other, he begins sweeping the vermillion

tiles inside Antigua Tattoo in Antigua, Guatemala. The shop opens in 10 minutes. In 1998, at age 24, Wolfos began working for his older brother, Luis Bedregal, as an apprentice at this shop. “Being an apprentice is not fun or easy,” Wolfos said. “Sometimes I wanted to leave because I was so tired, but I’m still here.”

“Sometimes I wanted to leave because I was so tired, but I’m still here.” – Carlos Wolfos

MIRA NDA W EI PP ERT

C

arlos Wolfos arrived at the supermarket feeling angry and tired. While chatting with a friend on the phone, he noticed a police officer trailing behind him. When his friend asked him a question, Wolfos replied, “I have the police next to me, I’ll ask him.” The police officer began to laugh. Wolfos invited the officer to shop with him by handing the officer his basket. The officer shyly declined, leaving Wolfos to shop alone.

TATTOO A RTI ST C A R L OS WOL F O S S W E E P S TH E C OB B L E STONE STR E E T OU T S I D E O F H I S B R OTH E R L U I S B E DR E GA L’S TAT T O O S H O P I N A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N . 1 3 . W O L F O S H A S WOR K E D WI TH H I S B R OTH E R S I N CE 1 9 9 8 .

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M C K ENZ IE VA N LOH

TATTOO A R TI ST L U I S B E DR E GA L CR A CK S A J OK E W I TH A C L I E NT W H I L E TA K I N G A QU I C K B R E A K FR OM TAT T O O I N G AT A NTI GU A TATTOO I N A N T I G U A GU ATE M A L A J A N. 10. B E DR E G A L H A S OW NE D TH E TATTOO SH OP SI N CE 1 9 9 8 .

“A good tattooer has to be humble, nice. The best tattoo artists let their work speak for itself.” – Carlos Wolfos

Before Antigua Tattoo, Wolfos worked the night shift at UPS Inc. from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. His bosses required him to wear a tie and look respectable. “I was very angry that I had to cut my long hair,” Wolfos said. “But I had to work, you know, because I’m not rich.” Wolfos says a negative stereotype exists in Guatemala about having long hair and tattoos. 70

While riding camionetas, Wolfos claims to always have an open seat beside him. Wolfos also claims to be treated differently when volunteering at the animal shelter. “They don’t trust you because society taught them that people like this [are] bad [people],” Wolfos said. In Guatemala, outside of Antigua, having certain types of symbolic tattoos can be very dangerous. Police not only scan you, but your tattoos as well. People of a higher economic class are safer, while those of a lower economic class are not. For example, Guatemala City is divided into 24 zones versus neighborhoods. Wolfos stays out of zones 3, 18, 21 and parts of 11 and 12 which are considered “red zones” because he knows he does not belong. “When you go there, local people start to scan your tattoos because they have gang problems,” Wolfos said. “They have to scan your tattoos

and talk to you a little bit to see that everything is fine.” Today, Wolfos notices other tattoo artists exhibiting arrogant and superior behavior, like “rockstars.” “A good tattooer has to be humble, nice,” Wolfos said. “The best tattoo artists let their work speak for itself.” Wolfos works Monday through Saturday at Antigua Tattoo, but tattooing isn’t the only thing he enjoys. On Sunday he devotes time to his family and his girlfriend, Sara. “We aren’t rockstars,” Wolfos said. “We are just normal people.” A RTI C L E DE SI GN B Y K E NDA L L SODERS T RO M


CARLOS WOLFOS

MI RAN DA WE IP P ERT

A G E : 36 J O B T I T L E : Tattoo Artist H O BBI E S : Video games, Japenese anime, lending a helping hand

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Helping to heal Guatemalan healer and Myan Priestess Lidia Escobedo volunteers her healing therapies at Hogar de Ancianos Fray Rodrigo de La Cruz, a nursing home in Antigua. She also teaches the next generation of healers in villages across Guatemala in the face of skepticism.

P HO TO BY CALLI E SCHMI DT

by CALLIE SCHMIDT

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L I D IA E S COBE D O CH E C KS IN ON HER PAT IENT MA RGA RITA PATZA N, 72, AT H OGA R D E ANCIANOS F R AY R ODRIGO DE LA C RU Z ON JA N. 17. PAT ZA N E X P E R I E NC E D IN CR E AS E D MOBILITY A FT ER REC EIVING PHYSIC A L, EMO T IONA L A ND SP I R I TU A L TH E R AP Y FR OM E SCOBEDO . “IF YO U TA LK T O A PERSON WIT H L OV E I N YOU R H E ART, IT WILL ALWAYS W ORK,” ESC O BEDO SA ID. “A LWAYS.”


L

idia Escobedo, 58, tunes in to AC/DC the minute she rolls out of bed and belts out Ave Maria before she rolls back in at night.

Her callused hands glide across her patients’ pressure points, releasing their pain and giving them extended mobility. Escobedo can apply pressure and practice her therapy for two to three hours at a time without a break. This strength, she claims, comes from practicing Mayan martial arts. In her everyday life, Escobedo balances being a Mayan priestess, life coach, teacher, and healer of humans and animals. She also helps terminally ill people to die peacefully.

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TIM HECK

A NTI GU A R E SI DE NTS S I T OU TSI DE OF H O G AR DE A NC I A NO S F RAY R ODR I GO DE L A C R U Z I N TH E L I T T L E SH A DE P R OVI D E D B Y TH E R OO F O N J A N. 17.

Escobedo asserts that her therapy comes as a gift. Although Escobedo received no formal education in physical therapy, she studies human anatomy and received help from her mother, who descended from Poco Mam, a Mayan tribe. “I study the body,” Escobedo said. “The human body is just amazing.” Escobedo volunteers once a week at Hogar de Ancianos Fray Rodrigo de La Cruz, a nursing home in Antigua, Guatemala, with 170 residents and six doctors. There, with the approval of the she helps heal residents through different forms of therapy such as physical, occupational, spiritual, music and dance.

CALLI E SCHMI DT

Escobedo’s patient and nursing home resident Saturnina Arriaga struggled to determine her own age, but guessed about 60 years old. After checking with the staff, however, Escobedo found Arriaga to be 90 years old. “We age as human beings faster here,” Escobedo said.

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Escobedo and her team teach residents how to express their feelings, especially when receiving therapy. “People from little villages are tough. Mayans don’t express pain, happiness, or if they are mad,” Escobedo said. “They are stoic.” Graciela Salazar, 79, struggles to walk, bore no children and never married. “I’m single and available,” Salazar said, producing chuckles from Escobedo. Salazar moved to Guatemala City, the same city Escobedo was born in, after being kicked out of her house by her uncles at age 25. She transitioned from growing up raising cattle on a farm to working as a maid for more than 54 years. Salazar cleaned houses until arriving at Hogar De Ancianos five years ago. Escobedo began her therapy and healing journey in 2001. Her favorite kind of therapy, however, is spiritual. “It has to be how you connect with people, with the person that is

A R E SI DE NT R E L A X E S ON H E R B E D AT H OGAR DE A NC I A NO S O N J A N. 17. H OG AR DE A NC I A NO S I S A NU R SI NG H O M E I N A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A , H OSTI NG 170 R E SI DE NTS B UT ONLY SI X DO CT O RS . “ WE A R E SE V E RE LY U NDE R STA FF E D , ” E SC OB E DO S AI D .


in front of you,” Escobedo said. “For us this is sacred… If you connect with people [through] true love, compassion, and acceptance, then you can connect with their soul, and you can help them to find their own way of healing.” In 2005, Escobedo stumbled upon a newspaper ad for volunteers at Unidad De Oncologia Pediatrica, a national hospital for children with cancer in Guatemala City. “I received a call to become a Mayan priestess, and then I received a call to work with people with cancer,” Escobedo said.

CAR LO HOLMB ER G

SATUR N IN A A RRIA GA LAYS ST ILL ON TH E TH E RA PY BED, O N JA N. 17. WH ILE LIDIA ESC O BEDO PERFO RMS H E R TH E R AP Y. HER HA NDS HAVE BEEN CALLOUSE D FRO M T HE YEA RS OF H AR D WOR K

Before calling UNOP, Escobedo called four different hospitals to offer her services, but was rejected by them all. She decided to try one more time when she saw the newspaper ad for UNOP. There were 15 names listed in the newspaper ad, so Escobedo pointed at each one saying, de tin marin, de dos pingüe, the Latin version of eeny, meeny, miny, moe. “And I say, always, ‘Guide me please.’ Because I do believe in God,” Escobedo said. “I do believe in a loving and big, big God.”

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C AL LIE SCHMI DT

H OGA R DE A NC I A NOS R E SI DE NT GR A C I E L A SA L A ZA R , 79, WA I TS I N L I NE TO R E C E I V E TH E R A P Y FR OM E SC OB E DO ON J A N. 10. SA L A ZA R STR U GGL E S TO WA L K , NE V E R MA R R I E D A ND B OR E NO C H I L DR E N. “ I ’M SI NGL E A ND AVA I L A B L E ,” SA L A ZA R SA I D.

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C A LLIE S C H M IDT

Escobedo ended up calling the founder of the hospital, Berta De Canelia. Her son’s cancer inspired Canelia to start the hospital. The founder brought her son to the states, where he received therapy from healers like Lidia. “She said, ‘Lidia, I have been praying for four years to God to bring somebody like you,’” Escobedo said. Doctors were skeptical of Escobedo’s practices at first, but after seeing the results patients were experiencing after receiving therapy from Escobedo, doctors started paying attention and giving her intensive care patients to work with. Doctor Gustavo Palencia, sub-director of the nursing home, interviewed Escobedo over the phone when she applied to become a volunteer. Palencia was skeptical of Escobedo’s model of therapy at first, since the nursing home only practices the physical therapy model. “Yes, I doubted because I had never had someone like Lidia here before.” Palencia said. “But I felt confidence in Lidia when I met her. I thought it would be good for the patients. I liked that she was very secure about telling me what she does. I liked her honesty.” Head nurse Mayda Elizabeth Barrios Orozco started working at the nursing home more than 30 years ago. She has known and worked with Escobedo for six months, yet never doubted or criticized her methods. “I didn’t doubt her practices,” Barrios said. “I trusted Doctor Palencia because he said yes to Lidia.”

E SC OB E DO C H E C K S I N ON H E R PAT I E N T SATU R NI NA A R R I A GA AT H OGA R D E A NC I A NOS ON J A N. 17. A R R I A GA G UE S S E D SH E WA S 60 YE A R S OL D, B U T A F T E R C H E C K I NG WI TH TH E STA FF E SC O B E D O FOU ND A R R I A GA TO B E 90 YE A RS O L D . “ WE A GE A S H U MA N B E I NGS FA S T E R H E RE , ” E SC OB E DO SA I D.

“I teach them you don’t need to be waiting for somebody to help you.” – Lidia Escobedo

Nursing home resident Margarita Patzan, 72, received therapy from Escobedo after experiencing stiffness in her body, especially in her arms. Escobedo checked in on Patzan Jan. 15 to find her able to move her arms with greater mobility. Although Escobedo enjoys utilizing her healing skills to help people, she also volunteers her time to teach the next generation of healers. She begins teaching healing practices to students as young as nine years old. “I teach them you don’t need to be waiting for somebody to help you,” Escobedo said. “A lot of NGOs have come and given money, but they haven’t taught them how to use the money.”

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Lidia on the move

Escobedo travels to villages across Guatemala to teach young people her healing practices. She travels mainly by chicken busses, occasionally catching a shuttle or truck along the way. Training for student healers requires hard training - working and practices from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for a week. Escobedo does not allow her students to use drugs, because they are harmful to the body. “I do believe that true love is action,” Escobedo said. “Actions for others, but first for yourself.” In the future, Escobedo sees herself continuing to teach. “I’m getting old, so I want to share the knowledge I have,” Escobedo said. She hopes to bring people from around the world to learn Mayan wisdom and knowledge to connect the two worlds. “I am so proud of my country,” Escobedo said. “We have so much to give to the world.”

TIM HE CK

STORY DE SI GN B Y MATTI E K I DDE R

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L I DI A E SC OB E DO I NTE R A C TS WI TH H OGA R DE A NC I A NOS H E A D NU R SE MAYDA E L I ZA B E TH B A R R I OS OR OZC O ON J A N. 17. E SC OB E DO WOR K S C L OSE LY WI TH DOC TOR S A ND NU R SE S TO E NSU R E H E R PATI E NTS R E C E I V E WE L L - R OU NDE D C A R E . “ I DI DN ’ T DOU B T L I DI A’S P R A C TI C E S,” B A R R I OS SA I D. “ I TR U ST TH E DOCT O R B E C A U SE H E SA I D YE S TO L I DI A .”


LIDIA E S COBE D O HOLDS T HE HA ND OF SAT U RNINA A R R I A GA , A R E S IDE N T AT H OGA R DE A NC IA NOS FRAY RO DRIGO DE L A C R U Z, TO F E E L H E R SQU EEZ ING ST RENGT H ON JA N. 10. A RRI A GA H A D A S TR OKE P R IOR T O ESC O BEDO ’S T HERA PY.

“Look for the truth

TI M H E C K

in everything, so you don’t take sides. Because when you HOW TO BECOME A M AYA N P R I E S T / P R I E S T E S S :

take sides, you make

à It begins one of two ways: either the moment

you are born or when you receive the spiritual call.

the world divided, when the world is so big.”

à

Something will happen spiritually where you will feel the necessity to help people.

à

Usually, in the communities, children will be present at a sacred Mayan fire ceremony. It is usually there where people will feel called.

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MU SIC IA N SEBA ST IÁ N VILLAT O RO BEND A ÑA C HU C KLES A S HE REC ORDS T RA C KS FOR HIS REC ENT A LBU M W IT H PRODU C ERS DAVID SU Á REZ A ND FRA NC C A ST ILLEJO S AT REC ORDING ST U DIO A NÁ LO GO DIGITA L ON J A N. 12. VILLAT ORO SINGS IN T HE MIGHT Y C U R R E NT, A FOLK A ND BLU ES BA ND BA SED O U T OF GU AT EMA LA C IT Y.

Behind the mic A band tries to find a place in the Guatemala music scene.

CALLI E SCHMI DT

by TIM HECK

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C A LLIE S C H M IDT

FR A NC C A STI L L E J OS P OSE S FOR A P I C TU R E AT R E C OR DI NG STU DI O A NÁ L OGO DI GI TA L ON J A N. 12. TH E R E C OR DI NG STU DI O, FOR ME R LY A N OR P H A NA GE OWNE D B Y C A STI L L E J OS ’ PA R E NTS, I S B A SE D I N SA N L U C A S, SA C ATE P E QU E Z , GU ATE MA L A .

S

ebastián Villatoro Bendaña pulls into the driveway Jan. 12 at Análogo Digital, a recording studio in San Lucas, Guatemala, as Franc Castillejos walks out to greet him. Bendaña grabs his guitar from his trunk. Then, with a big grin, he embraces Castillejos. The friendship between these two runs deep because of Análogo Digital, where Bendaña records his music. Análogo Digital is run by two audio engineers, Castillejos and David Suárez, who recently became a member of the international Audio Engineering Society.

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Bendaña drove his SUV to Análogo Digital to record a new folk song. Before recording, he invites Castillejos and Suárez to grab their instruments and starts a jam session to work through the song. Suárez grabs an acoustic bass guitar and Castillejos grabs an acoustic guitar. Bendaña begins to strum his guitar and the other two join in when ready. Bendaña, Castillejos and Suárez jumped on instruments at young ages, which led them to careers in music. Bendañas and Suárez started out on guitar, but Castillejos started out on


C A R LO H OLM BE R G

P R ODU C E R DAV I D SU Á R E Z PA U SE S I N A MI DDL E OF A J A M SE SSI ON, WH I L E THE Y P U T P I E C E S TOGE TH E R FOR A NE W SONG ON J AN 17, AT A NÁ L OGO DI GI TAL STU DI O. SU Á R E Z R E C E N T LY B E C A ME A ME MB E R OF AN A U DI O E NGI NE E R I NG C L UB B A SE D OU T OF NE W YO RK .

piano. Bendañas and Castillejos both write their own music, while Suárez mainly runs the studio, which opened in 2015. “We had the dream of having a studio that gave even more services related to audio than just recording and that was it,” Suárez said.

“Franc and I are musicians and we have always tried to make something different to add something to our culture and we want people who listen to our music to think and feel a little bit more because music is about feeling and understanding,” Suárez said. “All of these projects come to our studio looking for a new sound that is fresh for Guatemalan ears and that is a great addition to what is being done. I think we’re making, and will keep making, great things for Guatemala for our culture to grow.”

CARLO HOLMBE RG

All three musicians are trying to use their talents to shape the music culture of the entire country.

MU SICI A N SE B A STI Á N V I L L ATOR O A ND P R ODU C E R S DAVID SU Á R E Z A ND FR A NC C A STI L L E J OS L A U GH AT A N INSIDE J OK E DU R I NG A N I NTE RV I E W ON J A N. 12 AT REC OR DI NG STU DI O A NÁ L OGO DI GI TA L . TH E TH R E E OF T HEM WOR K E D TOGE TH E R TO FI NI SH R E C OR DI NG A SONG.

STORY DE SI GN B Y A L L E GR A R OSE B ERG E R

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Setting the stage The arts and entertainment industry is booming in Guatemala thanks to organizations like Plataforma. by CARLO HOLMBERG

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as local artists and designers, to create a full artistic experience. They create opportunities for emerging bands who create original sounds and lyrics.

She can tell others are hearing the same thing when she watches people clap and swing along to the beat. The sight of the crowd absorbing the music puts a grin on her face. Between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., people of all sorts make their way in and out of the restaurant. Excitement arises within her. This is what Plataforma is about. This is what it should look like.

The idea of Plataforma originated from the heart Maria Fernanda Ríos, one of Rancati’s best friends, in 2014. Fernanda Rios knows the struggle of making a living with music in Guatemala. Even though music is big part of the culture, nameless bands and musicians have a drunk “fan section” and are paid with free beer. Fernanda Rios wanted more for aspiring artists, like herself. When Rancati heard the proposal she was immediately all in.

laudia Rancati, 26, scans El Marcadito de Lola in Guatemala City Jan.14. Limonada Bandida, a group of Guatemalan musicians and artists, weave their music through a the small crowd. New melodies, harmonies, and rhythms flow into Rancati’s ears.

“We try to create a specific ambiance, like really art friendly,” Rancati said. Plataforma is an organization, based out of Guatemala City, that finds venues that can host musicians, as well

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“We want to get people who make their own music,” Rancati mentions.

“We’re trying to see the future,” Rancati said.


T IM H EC K

She creates invites for gigs via Facebook and Instagram. Word of Plataforma organized events get around by these two major social network. Along with running the social media side of Plataforma, Rancati works at Milano, a bakery in Guatemala City owned by her father. “I don’t expect a profit from (Plataforma),” Rancati said. “I just love it.” Music continually plays while local artists, painters and designers display their skills and talents. Any profit left after all expenses are paid go to the performers. Every show is a different artist who performs at a different venue. Rancati and her phone don’t get much rest. It is unusual for her to go long period of time without getting a phone call, text, or an email, from enthusiastic artists wanting to to be part of Plataforma.

C L A U DI A R A NC ATI E X P L A I NS H OW SH E H E L P E D STA RT P L ATA FOR MA FOR GU ATE MA L A C I TY I N TH E R A I NB OW C A FÉ ON J A N. 17. P L ATA FOR MA I S A N OR GA NI ZATI ON TH AT H A S B E E N OR GA NI ZI NG GI GS A ND V E NU E S FOR L OC A L MU SI C I A NS A ND A RTI STS.

“It has its own nature. It will go little by little. I just want it to be alive, I want it to make a difference.” – Claudia Rancati

S T ORY DESIGN BY A LLEGRA RO SE BERG E R T RA NSLAT ION BY RA FA EL PA RRA A DDIT IO NA L REPORT ING BY T IM HEC K A ND C A LLIE SC HMIDT

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The most in need Disabled children and adults thrive in new home outside Antigua with worldwide donor support. By MIRANDA WEIPPERT, MCKENZIE

MCKE N ZI E VAN LOH

VAN LOH & ISABELA SAGASTUY

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GLAD Y S S EGU RA , 75, LIFT S HERSELF OU T OF H E R WHEELC HA IR T O TA KE A LO OK O U T TH E WINDO W AT VIRGEN DEL SO C ORRO IN AN TIGU A GU AT EMA LA JA N. 17. VIRGEN DE L SOCC ORRO’S NEW BU ILDING IS S UR R OUN DED BY VO LC A NOES.


"I felt like no one could support me – only God." – Maria Matilda

After a year, they decided to take Matilda to Virgen del Socorro – a residence home for special needs adults and children. The home is run by Faith in Practice, a non-governmental organization based in Houston. Here, she would have stable meals and clean clothes. Matilda still has no relationship with her daughter, but she has established contact with one of her six grandsons who lives in Chicago, Illinois. “I like it here because I have medical attention,” Matilda said. “But I don’t like how cold it is and there isn’t anywhere to go out.” Today Matilda, 83, cruises through Virgen Del Socorro on her electric wheelchair and occasionally snacks on salt. She loves attending misa, or mass, every Thursday and Sunday. Her friends know her for her singing, knitting, friendliness and sense of humor. “I pray to God, blessing all I encounter here when I go to mass,” Matilda said.

In late 2016, Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro, a hospital in Antigua that partners with Faith in Practice, opened Virgen Del Socorro, a new building for disabled residents located 10 minutes outside the city. The mustard-colored, three-level structure sits below volcanoes with a clear view of Antigua below. A total of 239 patients reside at Virgen del Socorro with room for at least 11 more. Although in operation, the home will continue to undergo construction until the project is finished. “Here, we have so much more room,” volunteer coordinator Xiomara Toledo said. “In the other place there was little to none.” Government offices, social work foundations in the United States, church groups and a non-profit organization in Italy donated all the materials needed, including blankets, wheelchairs and televisions. Many of the residents who live here have been abandoned by their families. “But on the positive side [Obras] represents that [Guatemalans] have good charities that can help these people,” Toledo said.

V I R GE N DE L SOC OR R O SI TS PE ACE F UL LY OV E R L OOK I NG A NTI GU A , GU AT E M AL A AS C ONSTR U C TI ON C ONTI NU E S O N JAN . 1 5 . NU ME R OU S DONOR S FR OM A RO UN D T H E WOR L D MA DE A NE W H OME F O R T H E S E R E SI DE NTS P O S S I B L E .

M CK E NZ I E VAN L O H

W

idowed Maria Matilda sat locked in her home in Guatemala City after experiencing a stroke. Paralyzed on her right side, Matilda could barely move or care for herself. “I felt lonely once my husband passed,” Matilda said. “I felt like no one could support me – only God.” She says her only daughter, who lived three blocks away, never visited or helped her. Instead, neighbors who taught Sunday School at a nearby church found her and helped her by giving her food and showers.

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MARĺA MATILDA AGE: 83 YEARS IN THE H OM E: 11 years H OBBIES: Knitting, singing, attending mass, and talking with her friend Gladys

Catarino Perez, 63, better known as Catocho, meanders through the second floor of Virgen del Socorro, bouncing like a pigeon with each step. He wears a quarter-zip fleece that is ceiba tree green – his favorite color. The tiles on the floor make the shape of a square, circling the open roof that exposes the weightless, airy sunlight. He grips the protective mesh attached to the balcony railing, peering down to where the abuelas, or grandmothers, crochet bags, eat vegetable soup and close their eyes under the sun’s joyful rays. To Perez, a good day at Virgen del Socorro means waking up at 5 a.m. to take a bath and make his bed. It means eating eggs, papaya and canned potatoes for breakfast and bread and tortillas in the afternoon. In his free time, Perez loves to dance marimba. When meals are over, Perez likes to push the other residents in their wheelchairs from the table, back to their rooms. He claims to have loved mopping as a child and later became the sacristán, a helper of the church at Santo Hermano Pedro, the owners of obras. “For the first year, I almost figured he worked there,” David Dean, a volunteer of four years said. “He was always 88

M IRA NDA W EIPPERT

M AR IA M ATILDA, 83 , CLOSE S H E R E Y E S TO P R AY WH ILE PARTICIPATIN G IN MASS AT V IR G E N DE L SOCCOR R O J AN . 19 . V IR GE N D E L SOCOR R O H OSTS MASS E V E RY TH UR S DAY AND S UN D AY.

helping, pushing others to mass and generally keeping very busy.” At the original resident home in Antigua, Perez would often tag along during tours of the building. He got to know what the tour guides would say, and asked if he could be a tour guide as well.

"For the first year, I almost figured he worked there – he was always helping, pushing others to mass and generally keeping very busy." – David Dean

As time passed, Perez would complain of pains and ask to stay the night at Virgen del Socorro even though he felt fine. Eventually, they allowed him to stay permanently as a resident. Even after going through surgery, Perez still desires to help, often assisting his friend Antonio from his chair, to the table back to his bed.


M IRA NDA W EIPPERT MCKE NZI E VAN LOH

CATAR IN O P E R E Z , 63, A ND OT HER MA LE RESIDENT S FROM V IR GE N D E L SOCC O RRO GAT HER FO R LU NC H AT VIRGEN DE L S OCCOR R O ON JA N. 16. PEREZ WILL OFT EN HELP HIS FR I E ND AN TON IO R AMÍREZ WA LK BA C K T O HIS ROOM.

C ATA R I N O P É R E Z

CATAR IN O P E R E Z , 63, PU LLS A C A RT O F DISHES FROM TH E S E CON D F LOOR T O T HE KIT C HEN AT VIRGEN DEL SO C C OR R O J A N. 1 7 . P E R E Z OF TE N HELPS T HE STA FF AT VIRGEN DEL SO C C OR R O MOV E CARTS AND W HEELC HA IRS.

A G E : 63 Y E A R S I N T H E H O M E : 1 1/2 years H O BBI E S : Helping other patients, employees and showing people around the home

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ANTONIO RAMÍREZ

M IRA NDA W EIPPERT

AG E: 67 Y EARS I N TH E H OM E : 24 years H OB B I ES: Listening to the radio and sweet-talking the ladies

AN TON IO R AMÍR E Z, 67, LAYS P E ACE FULLY ON H IS PLA ID SHEET S W ITH H IS H ANDH E LD RA DIO AT HIS S I DE AT V IR GE N D E L SO C C ORRO JA N. 1 7 . H E E NJ OY S LIS TE NING T O NEW S W H ILE H E TR IE S TO S LEEP.

Antonio Ramírez, 67, lays peacefully on his plaid sheets with his handheld radio at his side. One hand lies on his chest while the other hand supports the back of his head. Listening to the news, he closes his eyes as he drifts to sleep. Ramiréz says he lost sight in both of his eyes more than 24 years ago due to alcoholism. “When you are an addict you won’t care if you lose everything you have,” Ramirez said. Although blind, Ramírez never forgets the place he once called home. “He knows every corner of Antigua,”

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Toledo said. “If you leave him in any place, he can find his way back.” Ramirez smiles as he recalls going to church twice a day, but now only attends misa twice a week with the friends he’s made inside the home.“When I get there, I like to thank the Lord for what he gives me: my friends and this new big house,” Ramirez said. “I also like to ask him for a better sense or orientation so I can walk by myself in this different place.”


After losing thier parents at age 11, Marin and his brother were raised by his grandmother in Guatemala City. Marin claims to recall much about his younger years, but the social workers can’t be certain all the memories he shares are true. His stories involve dancing, partying and women.

AL F R EDO M AR IN , 6 7 , P OSE S F OR TH E CAM E R A WH ILE S I TTING NE AR TH E D I N N E R TABLE AT V I R G EN DE L SOCOR R O JA N . 16. V IR GE N D E L S O C OR R O H AS 2 3 9 R E S ID E N TS , WITH TH E CAPABILITY TO H OST 1 1 M OR E .

At age 25, Marin became paralyzed. Although psychological therapy helped, he still holds resentment against family. He specifically envied his brother for his ability to walk normally and get married. Marin struggled in life, often questioning why God made him this way. “Everyone I knew is in heaven now,” Marin said. Once

his grandmother passed, he was taken to Virgen del Socorro by his sister-inlaw, who could not take care of him due to her own health issues. Marin misses his grandmother’s cooking the most. “How could anyone not miss their grandma’s tortillas?” Marin said.

"How could anyone not miss their grandma’s tortillas?" – Alfredo Marin

Today, Marin finds joy by painting and singing. When Virgen del Socorro’s school is in session, Marin is given a helmet with an extended paint tool attached. “He goes slowly and takes great pride,” Dean said. “He also drives a hard bargain when it comes to possibly selling one of his masterpieces.”

MIR AN DA WE IP PE RT

Alfredo Marin, 74, sits in his wheelchair, wearing his red knitted hat and a blue and white striped shirt. He listens to boleros, slow-tempo Latin music, as it plays on the TV. His wrists, twisted in opposite directions, rest on his wheelchair tray. While women are around, he bats his long, flowing eyelashes with a smile that rarely leaves his face.

JOSÉ ALFREDO A G E : 74 Y E A R S I N T H E H O M E : 12 years H O BBI E S : Singing and painting

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M IRA ND A WE I P P E RT

VIRGEN DEL SOC C ORRO RESIDENT PU MPS SOME IRON AT VIRGEN DEL SOC C ORRO’S PHYSIC A L T HERA PY RO OM JA N. 16. RESIDENT S HAVE T HE O PPORT U NIT Y T O DO O C C U PAT IO NA L T HERA PY A S WELL WHIC H INC LU DES A RT S A ND C RA FT S.

Virgen del Socorros’ mission statement is, “helping the most in need and always with love and care.” The residents here are provided not only with physical therapy, but occupational therapy, such as arts and crafts, as well. When kids visit Virgen del Socorro their parents often scare them, warning that if they don’t behave they will end up like the residents in this home. Some visitors believe the residents’ disabilities are contagious. “We still need a lot of education about this, Toledo said. “There’s a lack of cultural understanding and a huge lack of education.”

"We still need a lot of education about this. There’s a lack of cultural understanding and a huge lack of education." – Xiomara Toledo

KE NDALL SODER STR OM

ST ORY DESIGN BY KENDA LL SODERSTR OM

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GL OR I A A ZU C E NA , 41, B E GI NS C R OC H E TI NG A NE W C OL OR FU L B A G AT V I R GE N DE L SOC OR R O ON J A N. 15. A ZU C E NA WA S ONE OF TH E FI R ST R E SI DE NTS H E R E A ND DOE S H E R MA K E U P E V E RY MOR NI NG B E FOR E PA SSI NG H E R TI ME WI TH C R OC H E TI NG.


I SAB EL A SAGASTUY

CATAR IN O P E R E Z HELPS A NT O NIO RA MÍREZ WALK BACK TO HIS BED A FT ER EAT ING LUN CH AT V IR GEN DEL SO C ORRO O N JA N. 1 6 . P E R E Z AND RA MIREZ MET IN A NT IGU A AN D H AV E BE E N GOOD FRIENDS EVER SINC E.

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Feeding family on ice cream

CARL O HOL MBE RG

TOMA S L O P E Z P RE PARE S A C ONE W I T H P I N E AP P L E FL AV OR E D I CE CRE AM AT A N E NT RAN CE O F C E NTR A L PARK O F A NTI GU A , G UAT E M AL A ON J A N. 1 5 . H E ME NTI ON E D T H AT H E SE RV E S A D I F F E RE N T FL AV OR O F I CE CRE AM E V E RYDAY.

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T IM H EC K

TOMA S L OP E Z L E A NS ON H I S I C E C RE AM CART WA I TI NG FOR C U STOME R S I N C E N T RAL PARK OF A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 1 6 . L O P E Z H A S SOL D I C E C R E A M AT C E NTR A L PARK F O R 5 YE A R S. “ I A M A LWAYS H E R E E V E N I F I T RAI N S OR I F TH E R E I S NO ONE H E R E ,” SAI D L O P E Z .

A story about Tomas, his ice cream and Antigua’s Central Park.

omas Lopez Ramirez leans silently on his cart on 5th Avenida Norte across from Caf Portal in Central Park of Antigua, Guatema. The jangle of bells, babbling salesmen, roaring engines and the clicks and clacks of horseshoes on cobblestone fill the square. His pink and yellow hat hides his smile and eyes, but as children, tourists and locals swivel their heads around the park, the flash of color stops their gaze. Their eyes travel from his hat down to his wooden cart. In green lettering, the side reads “Deliciosos Super Helados, La Favorita,” above and below a grinning duck.

TI M HEC K

T

by CARLO HOLMBERG

ONE OF TOMA S L OP E Z’S FOU R DA U GH TE R S TA K E S A B R EAK AT H I S I C E C R E A M C A RT I N C E NTR A L PA R K OF A NTI GU A , GU ATEM AL A O N J A N. 15. L OP E Z’S E NTI R E FA MI LY, H I S WI FE , FOU R DA U GHT E RS , A ND ONE SON H A S WOR K E D AT C E NTR A L PA R K SE L L I NG CAN D Y A ND C I GA R E TTE S.

But every day at 9:30 a.m., Lopez parks his white cart, with sky blue accents, at the same entrance of Central Park. Every day he wears his Van Dutch hat. Every day the complexion of skin is darkened by the sun. Every day he sells ice cream.

CARL O HOLMB ER G

Lopez serves his ice cream to tourists, who can also soak their taste buds with a latte from one of the several coffee shops across the street. Or experience traditional Guatemalan chicken, sausage, rice, beans, and of course rice and corn tortillas, just a few blocks away.

TOMA S L OP E Z L AYS A SP E C I A L SA U C E ON TOP OF A C ON E AT C E NTR A L PA R K OF A NTI GU A , GU ATE MA L A ON J A N. 16. L O P E Z H A S B E E N SE L L I NG I C E C R E A M FOR FI V E YE A R S.

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C A R LO H OLM BE R G

A FA MI LY MA K E S A STOP AT TO M AS L OP E Z’ I C E C RE AM C A RT I N C E N T RAL PA R K OF A NT I G UA GU ATE MA L A O N J A N. 17. L OPE Z U SE D TO WO RK AT A N OR P H A NAG E . “ I A M H A P P Y B E CAUS E TH E C H I L DR E N ARE H A P P Y, B E C AUS E I H E L P E D TH EM , ” L OP E Z SA I D.

C A RLO H OLM B ERG

TOMA S L OP E Z R E STS ON THE CURB A ND L E A NS B ACK ON TH E FE NCE TO E SC A P E T H E SU N I N C E NT RAL PA R K OF A NT I G UA, GU ATE MA L A . L OP E Z WOR K E D AS SE C U R I TY OF F I CE R FOR 11 YE A RS AT AN ATM NE A R C E N T RAL PA R K B E FOR E SE L L I NG I C E CRE AM .

“I am always here, even if it rains, or if there are no people here,” Lopez said. Lopez sells a different flavor each day. He might serve strawberry ice cream one day or lime on another. Like his hat, the colors of Guatemala appear in the cones and the ice cream. Lopez always greets his customers with a smile. It’s Hhis interaction with people, especially with children, makes him smile. In his younger years, he worked with children in an orphanage in Sumpango, a 35-minute drive north, called Casa Alianza. “I am happy because the children are happy, because I helped them,” Lopez said.

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He also was a security officer at an ATM station by Central Park for 11 years. But sales run in the family. His wife, along with their five children, wander the park selling candy and cigarettes. When the sun sets behind Cafe Portal, Lopez counts his earnings for the day, about 60 quetzales, or $8. He grabs hold of the two handles of his cart and follows the sun as it falls into the western horizon. The colors of his pink and yellow hat mimic those of the sunset as he starts his 30-minute trek home down the cobblestone. STORY DE SI GN B Y A L L E GR A R OSE B E R GE R


CARL O HOLMB ER G

TOMA S L OPE Z P UL L S H I S C A RT H O M E AF T E R A L ONG DAY O F S E L L I N G I C E C R E A M I N CE N T RAL PA R K O F AN T I G UA, GU AT E M AL A. H E TR AV E L E D 3 0 M I N UT E S I N TH E M O RN I N G T O SE T U P S H O P ACRO S S TH E S T RE E T F RO M C AF E P O RTAL .

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CALLI E SCHMI DT


M AR I A TR IN ID AD S AN TOS TH R O WS BACK H E R H E AD IN L A U G H TE R AT H E R H O ME IN S A N AN TON IO AG UAS CAL I E NTE S . S AN TOS COO KED F O O D TO S E LL IN TH E V I LLA GE F O R TH E LAST TIME BE F ORE H E R SUR GE RY J AN. 1 7 .

After today One woman waited 16 years for hernia surgery within a struggling national health care system. But after one day, her life could change.

by ABBY PETERSEN

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M

aria Trinidad Santos hugs a pink blanket around her shoulders in a surgical waiting room in Antigua, Guatemala. It is 6 a.m. – the time the doctors told her to arrive – but the doors to the operating room are dark. Patients line the walls like the tire spokes of the chicken buses that brought them there. Four quetzales one way. She pulls her silver earrings off and hands them to her daughter. After today, she knows she won’t be able to work for three months. After today, her 16-year wait for a 40-minute hernia surgery will be over. After today, her life could change. Maybe her hardships started in 1980, the year guerillas dragged her husband, the mayor of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, out of his office and murdered him. Villagers found his body two days later. Santos was widowed with four children at her heels. Maybe they started in 1994, the year her drunken son brought a rifle to his head in front of the family and fired, killing himself. Or maybe they started 16 years ago, when, after years of carrying crops, hoes and firewood on her back, she developed a hernia just above her left thigh. In 2016, Santos’s friend told her about a hospital she could afford in Antigua, about 20 minutes from her home. Santos represents one of more than 15 million Guatemalans sharing a national, government-funded health care system with less than one bed per 1,000 people, according to the 2016 CIA Factbook. Almost 60 percent of those Guatemalans live below the poverty line, defined as “the amount needed to purchase a basic basket of food,” according to The World Bank. Patients at state hospitals may wait months or years for surgery and are often required to provide their own medical supplies, such as gauze, plaster and medication. But at Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, things are different.

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“It’s like a donation, not a payment,” Julissa Pineda said, leaning back in a red armchair in her office at the hospital. Pineda, surgical unit chief at Obras since 2015, manages the surgery rooms, post-operation rooms and coordinates medical mission teams that come to the hospital for about one week per year to perform surgeries. Most teams come from the United States. In 2015, the hospital performed 4,253 surgeries in its five operating rooms, each the size of a basic college dorm room. After being referred for surgery by a doctor, social workers give patients an economic analysis. The social worker makes sure patients only need to pay what they can. Almost all hospital funding comes from donations and the medical mission teams themselves. Pineda believes Obras, a private hospital, provides what the national health care system cannot: resources. “The [national] system isn’t really set up to be patient-centric,” said Shelly Darnall, director of surgery and referrals at Faith in Practice. Faith in Practice, an Antigua-based non-governmental organization, is responsible for 16 of the 40 traveling surgical teams that work at Obras each year. The NGO also operates a patient and family home, Casa de Fe, that serves as a free hostel for patients and their families while they stay in Antigua awaiting surgery. “[Having a hernia for 16 years] is exemplary of the lack of access,” Darnall said. One day before her scheduled surgery, 65-year-old Santos cuts carrots, celery and onions outside the wooden structure that houses her cooking fire and dishes. Although she moved in with her daughter and no longer lives alone, she cannot afford a stove and she’s worried inhaling the smoke from the cooking fire each day will make her sick. Nearby, chickens peck at the dirt from wire enclosures. A dented wheelbarrow sits empty behind her – the wheelbarrow her children bought a few years ago so Santos wouldn’t have to carry farm supplies on her back. But that was after the hernia.


C A LLIE S C H M IDT

MA RIA T RINIDA D S A NT O S ST IRS HER F O OD O VER T HE F IRE IN HER HO ME. S A NT O S SO LD FO OD IN T HE VILLA GE UNT IL 10 P.M.

“Antigua is like Disneyland to the rest of Guatemala.”

MOR GAN P E TE RSON

– Noah Siegel, head doctor for Medical Missions for Children

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A BBY P E T E R S E N

S UR G I CAL PATIE N TS L O O K T OWAR D TH E O P E R ATING R OOM D O O R S AS A N UR SE C AL L S O U T TH E NAM E O F TH E N E XT PATIE N T. M AR I A TR IN ID AD S AN TO S WAITE D F OUR H O U R S TO R E CE IV E S UR G ERY J AN . 17 .

HERNIA

Protrusion of an organ or tissue throught its surrounding walls, especially in the abdomen.

CLEFT LIP

A congenitally deformed lip, typically the upper one.

C L E F T PA L AT E

ABB Y PE TER SEN

A congential defect of the roof of the mouth.

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A L MO S T T W O H O URS A FTE R B E I N G AD M I T T E D , MA R I A TRI N I D AD S AN T O S STE P S ONTO T H E S URG I CAL B E D I N O R# 4 . S AN T O S H A D H E R H E RN I A F O R 1 6 YE A R S B E F O RE RE CE I VI N G SU R GE RY. “ T H AT W O UL D N ’ T H A P P E N I N T H E UN I T E D STATES VE RY O F T E N , ” K NOX VI L L E M E D I CAL MI SSI ON H E AD D O CT O R WI L L A R D C AM P B E L L S AI D .


“It’s like a donation, not a payment.” – Julissa Pineda

Tonight, she will work for the last time for three months. She sells food in the village, usually earning 90 quetzales, about $12, a day. If she doesn’t sell food for a few days, her daughter says, people will come knocking. Santos smiles and laughs as she works, but inside she is afraid. The social worker at the hospital told her she would need to pay 1,000 quetzales for medication after the surgery is over. Without work, she won’t have the money unless her children help her and they’re already paying for school supplies for their own children. Her seven-year-old grandson scrambles up a tree near the creek. Santos will work until 10 tonight. The operating room door swings open. “Maria Trinidad Santos?” Santos quickly grabs her X-rays, stands up and pulls her shoulders back. Within minutes, nurses nestle her into the pre-operation bed for OR#4 and stuff her clothes in a plastic bag by the bathroom door. She fears anesthesia and the needles – she has never had a surgery before. She prays. Outside, her two daughters wait. Years ago, Santos and her daughter Maxima broke apart when Maxima said it was Santos’ fault she and her siblings didn’t receive education. But now, Maxima says family issues must be set aside. Darnall understands the fear many Guatemalans have of national hospitals. Many patients come to private hospitals like Obras with advanced diseases because they could never afford surgery elsewhere. “People are used to living in pain,” Darnall said. “Living in poverty is painful.” When owner of Antigua Tours and Guatemalan resident Elizabeth Bell broke her arm a few years ago, the national hospital told her to drive to a pharmacy, buy supplies for her cast and come back. “If you don’t have the money for that, you’re out of luck,” Bell said. “What they do here [at Obras] is fill a gap.”

Five days earlier in the very same pre-op bed Santos will use, Lidia Gomez dangled a yellow hat over her crying eight-month-old son, Hector. The front of her purple shirt was stained with wetness. She hadn’t fed her son since 2 a.m. because Hector would receive cleft lip surgery that day. Gomez, a 35-year-old housewife and mother of six, came to Obras after hearing about the hospital’s free services at a health stand in her village. She spent eight days waiting with her son next to an IV pole with a stuffed snowman hanging from it like a guardian cherub, more than six hours from her home in La Libertad. “He is tired and bored,” she said, trying to comfort her son, and said she is tired of waiting. But when the doctor came to take Hector to his surgery, Gomez collapsed into tears. The nurses shuffled her out of the hospital, where she waited until the surgery was done. It was the last time Gomez would see her son with his cleft lip. Inside the pre-op room, babies screamed while nurses blew bubbles and handed out balloons. Hector’s bed lay empty. A member of the board of directors for Medical Missions for Children, Noah Siegal, works in Boston 50 weeks out of the year. This January he traveled to Guatemala to serve patients, many of whom travel long distances to receive surgery. Some will receive it, but others must be sent home if conditions aren’t right for surgery. “Antigua is like Disneyland to the rest of Guatemala,” Siegel said. He believes the “real” Guatemala is in the villages where his patients live. Hector was one of about seven operations the doctors perform in one day, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The doctors in OR#4 trapped Hector’s crying mouth with an anesthesia mask and spread him flat on the table. With a blue felt pen, one doctor marked Hector’s mouth for an incision. Nurses snapped gloves on the doctors’ hands. “It’s like a paint-by-number,” one doctor, wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers cap, said, motioning for another to watch as he made the cut.

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Registered nurse Malissa Mocsari stepped into OR#4 for her second year in a row. She’s used to working with babies – she’s a labor and delivery nurse at Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee – but today she checks the charts of a 65-year-old woman: Maria Trinidad Santos. She steps out of the way while Santos calmly glides in on the arm of a nurse. She lays on the table and gazes up at the ceiling as the anesthesiologist straps a mask over her mouth. Head doctor, Willard Campbell, chuckles when he hears his patient has had the hernia for 16 years. He removed a man’s 17-year-old hernia yesterday. “That wouldn’t happen in the United States very often,” he says. “If she tries to do heavy work (with a hernia) it’s going to be very painful.” Exactly 41 minutes after the first incision, the last stitch goes in. Noon sunlight beams in to Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Jan. 18. It is less than 24 hours since Knoxville doctor Mike Abadier finished the surgery by sewing Santos’ abdomen back up – a day earlier than she was supposed to be discharged – but she is standing as proud as the flowers her daughter sells in San Antonio. A nurse hands her two packets of pills: Tylenol and ibuprofen. Santos smiles. She still doesn’t know how she’ll pay back her children the 1,000 quetzales for the surgery, but that worry isn’t for today. At least she wouldn’t have to pay for more medication. She touches a hand to her left side as her son leads her down the hospital hallways, past a man in a hospital gown holding an IV pole, away from OR#4, – the same place Hector vacated last week, his lip sewn up – toward the ornate yellow entrance. She sits down in a waiting room chair, takes her silver earrings back from her daughter and slides them back into her earlobes. She isn’t waiting anymore. S T ORY D E SIGN BY BE T H DA HLIN

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MA R I A TR I NI DA D SA NTOS WA L K S PAS T WA I TI NG PATI E NTS WI TH TH E H E L P OF H E R SON. SH E PA I D ONLY 1 , 0 0 0 QU E TZA L E S, OR A B OU T $130, TOTA L F O R TH E SU R G E RY.


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ABB Y PE TER SEN


A N AYU DA NTE H A NGS OU T OF TH E C H I C K E N B U S’S DOOR , SC OU TI NG A H E A D FOR TH E DR I V E R I N TH E A NTI GU A B U S TE R MI NA L ON J A N. 10. AYU DA NTE S A R E C ONSTA NTLY I NSI DE A ND OU TSI DE OF TH E B U S, H E L P I NG P E OP L E ON OR OFF, A S WE L L A S STOP P I NG TR A FFI C I N OR DE R TO L E T TH E B U S ONTO A B U SY STR E E T.

Bus identity KATI E SAFFE LL

The lives of locals center on unique Guatemalan transportation.

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by KATIE SAFFELL


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A

nearly empty lot begins to rouse with rising dust as a diesel engine mumbles to life in the distance. With the dust, smoke wafts from the barbecue of a vendor who grills breakfast meat for impending herds of commuters heading in and out of Antigua. An engine’s exhaust sighs somewhere, breaking an unspoken contract of silence. The city wakes itself not with roosters, but with chickens.

bus labelled with sleek, dual-tone blue letters: La Primorosa. “The Primrose.”

Chicken buses, that is.

As the bus swings into the terminal, the ayudante jumps from his post to run alongside until the vehicle lurches to a stop. He reaches up and the first passenger hands her basket to him. He holds it with one arm and helps her down with the other.

Dubbed “chicken buses” by foreigners, the brightly colored buses in Guatemala are famous for shuttling locals between villages, towns and cities. From the village of San Miguel Dueñas to the town of Antigua, from Antigua to Guatemala City. The buses, or camionetas, which are unique to Guatemala, line the streets and highways. Some locals call them burras, or donkeys. Their names painted on the side indicate the family that runs the bus line. The buses that roll into the terminal kicking the dust awake make the sun seem lazy, hiding behind the hills around Antigua that still have not woken from their misty stupor. A bus helper, an ayudante, in a white T-Shirt hangs out the door of a red and white

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The names painted on the side indicate the family that runs the bus line. Other bus lines often paint their buses similarly to the larger, better known lines, in hopes to divert the customer base. Drivers call the off-brand buses “photocopies.” The paint can be misleading, but the names on the sides make the difference.

By the time he hands the woman her basket and makes sure it is securely balanced upon her head, the next passenger has almost unboarded. The ayudante steps back for the young man climbing out of the bus, but remains close by. His sharp eyes already fix on the next passenger, evaluating his luggage, hands patient and ready. Once the last passenger steps off, their feet and luggage secure, the ayudante finally steps away from his post. He evaluates the terminal and wanders in a circumference around the bus. The bus engine turns off and silence settles


P ETRA LE E

A N AYUDANTE C A LLS O U T T HE DES TI NATI ON OF TH E C H I C K E N B U S I N TH E A NTI GU A B U S TE R MI NA L ON JA N. 10. WHILE T HEIR BU S IS PA RK E D I N A STATI ON, AYUDANTES WI L L YE L L TH E NA ME OF TH E I R B U S’S DEST INAT ION IN HOPES OF GA INING MOR E PA SSE NGE R S.

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PET RA LEE

for a moment before the ayudante’s voice cuts through the dusty air:

ing in behind one another in crooked order like the cobblestones of Antigua.

“Guate-MA-la, Guate-MA-la, Guate-MA-la!”

The red Orellaña pulls up next to the green Esmeralda, and two ayudantes jump out. One stands at the front of the bus, one pops out of the rear to help passengers down from the higher step. A man gets off the bus and waits behind it until the ayudantes climb the ladder at the rear to retrieve his luggage from the roof—a large white sack of grain.

At bus stations in Guatemala, there is no map, and no apparent schedule. Buses leave when they fill up, and in order to get anywhere riders have to know where they are going ahead of time--that includes any connections.

P E TR A LE E

Another voice echoes from across the terminal: “Dueñas, Dueñas, Dueñas!” More buses file into the terminal, fall-

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A N AYUDANTE A SSI STS A WOMA N AS SH E U NB OA R DS A C H I C K E N B U S I N T H E A NTI GU A B U S TE R MI NA L ON J A N. 1 0 . AYUDANTES A R E E X P E C TE D TO H E L P PA SSE NGE R S WI TH TH E I R L U GGA GE , W H E N TH E Y B OA R D A ND WH E N TH E Y L E AVE .

The first helper lowers it to his companion who balances it timorously


KATIE SAFFELL

“Guate, Guate, Guate!” atop his head, and climbs back down the ladder. Minutes later, they pass tables up to each other for a boarding passenger, tying them to the roof with a few feet of green twine. Guatemalan bus drivers face as many dangers as any occupation in the country. The gangs that control different areas take percentages of the drivers’ earnings, and if the drivers choose not to pay, or pay too little, gang members often kill them.

A C OMMU TE R L AUG H S AS S H E S T E P S OFF A C H I C K E N B U S W I T H AN AYUDANTE C L OSE B Y, H E L P I N G H E R D O W N I N T H E A NTI GU A B U S T E RM I N AL O N JAN . 1 0 . C H I C K E N B U SE S U SE B O T H T H E S I D E AN D B A C K DOOR S O F T H E I R RE P URP O S E D S CH O O L B US E S .

gers potentially making connections. The ayudantes advertise the bus destinations with the means accessible: their voices. The dawn chorus of Guatemala consists of grackles and ayudantes. ST ORY DE SI GN B Y P E TR A L E E

“Guate, Guate, Guate!” More buses roll into the terminal, depositing passen-

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PE TRA L EE

TWO AYUDANTES H E L P TO L I FT A H E AV Y SA C K ONTO TH E R OOF OF TH E C H I C K E N B U S I N TH E A NTI GU A B U S TE R MI NA L ON J A N. 10. OFTE N TI ME S, A YUDANTES WI L L E NL I ST H E L P FR OM ONE A NOTH E R TO L OA D U P TH E I R V E H I C L E S WH E N SOME TH I NG P R OV E S TO B E TOO H E AV Y TO C A R RY TH E MSE LV E S.

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P E TR A L EE

PET RA LEE

A YOU NG MA N C L I MB S ONT O A CH I CK E N B U S E A R LY I N TH E MORN I N G I N T H E A NTI GU A B U S TE R MI NA L O N JAN . 1 0 . C H I C K E N B U SE S A R E A V ERY CO M M O N FOR M OF P U B L I C TR A NSP O RTAT I O N I N GU ATE MA L A F O R AN Y AG E .

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Meet the Textura team Allegra Rose Berger

Beth Dahlin

Tim Heck

Carlo Holmberg

Strategic Communication

Fine Art + Graphic Design

Graphic Design

Computer Science

Journalism

Alayna Hoy

Mattie Kidder

Hana Ko

Petra Lee

Rafa Parra

Journalism + Marketing

Graphic Design

Film + Visual Media Production

Fine Art + Graphic Design

Complementary Healing + Therapy

Abby Petersen

Morgan Peterson

Katie Saffell

Callie Schmidt

Kendall Soderstrom

Journalism

Music

English Literature + Writing

Journalism

Graphic Design

Chantal Soldini

Isa Sugastuy

Josiah Tillman

Kenzie Van Loh

Miranda Weippert

Dramatic Writing

Public Relations

Computer Science

Relational Communication

Organizational Communication

Scott Winter

Morgan Spiehs

Jessica Henderson

Assistant Professor of Journalism

Adjunct Professor

Associate Professor of Graphic Design

SUB MITTE D

Nataly Basterrechea

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PH OT OS B Y A LLEGRA ROS E B ERGER U NLES S OT HE RWI SE NOTE D


Many people offered transportation, meals, support and hospitality to help make Textura a reality. To all of these individuals, the staff of Textura would like to extend our gratitude. Without you, this magazine would not have been possible. Although we may not be able to cover everyone who helped us in one page, we would like to dedicate this space to personal thank yous to some of our greatest supporters. To all of you, thanks for making this adventure and project possible.

M ORGA N P E T E R S ON

Thank you VOYAGEUR TOURS Juan and Mario: thank you for the rides, smiles and patience in the midst of our hectic, last-minute scheduling.

SHELLY DARNALL Thank you for being an excellent source for leads, connections and encouragement as we explored Guatemala.

QUINTA DE LAS FLORES STAFF Thank you for creating a home away from home for staff that was safe, clean and beautiful.

RINCĂ“N TIPICO Thank you for the excellent chicken and for feeding Scott the majority of his meals during our stay in Guatemala.

MICHAEL POLANYI COLLEGE Thank you for encouraging your students to contribute to this project and working with our staff to make something new and different.

ELIZABETH BELL Thank you for giving us our first glimpse of Antigua and for sharing your knowledge of this city and country with us on multiple occasions for a variety of topics.

BETHEL UNIVERSITY Thanks to Office of Off-Campus Programs/International Studies, which supported the project from the start.

SOURCES Thank you to all our sources for your willingness to share your lives with us. We feel humbled and honored to have met you and learned from you. Thank you for trusting us with your stories.

PASTOR ANTONIO, AND IGLESIA VIDA REAL Thank you for a delicious meal, your hospitality and sharing your story with us.


Textura is an ongoing international storytelling project initiated by Bethel journalism and graphic design majors with support from Off-Campus Programs. To partner with Textura or provide support, go to seektextura.com.

D EPARTMENT O F J O U RNA L I S M DEPARTMEN T O F A RT & DE S I G N BE T H E L .E D U


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