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I Remember the Smell of Guatemala

I Remember the Smell of Guatemala ByYasmin & Fran Antmann

By Yasmin & Fran Antmann

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I Remember the Smell of Guatemala B y Y a s mi n & F r a n A n t m a n n

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e started packing on Saturday to go to Guatemala.

I was going with my Mom. Her friend, Janie was going to meet us there. My Mom was going to Guatemala to take pictures. But that wasn’t the only reason we were going.

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efore I tell you about my adventures in Guatemala, let me tell you more about myself.

My name is Yasmin Edith and I’m seven years old. I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn with my Mom and Dad, Skipperdee and three goldfish whom I haven’t named yet. Page 5


y best friends are Musa Matiwane (which means grace in Zulu), and Christina Feng. Christina and I met at Union Temple Preschool when we were just three years old. Our teacher said that we were as thick as thieves. Now we even dream the same dreams.

I love jumping in the air, dancing, climbing trees like koala bears, drawing and making sculptures and collages. Page 6

This is Musa

This is Christina Page 7


y Daddy is a lawyer who wishes he were a sailor. My Mommy is a photographer and writer. She likes to travel because she is curious and wants to know how different people live. Once she lived with the Inuit people near the North Pole. I hope she goes to the South Pole so I can go with her and meet the Emperor penguins.


I borrowed Mommy’s camera to take these pictures.


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Animals are the best. I wish my mother was a zookeeper so that we could visit the animals whenever we wanted, even at night. Koalas are my very favorite animals and I have a big collection of them. When I grow up, I’m going to Australia to live with the koalas and protect the eucalyptus trees for them.

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Now here is the real reason we were going to Guatemala. My Mommy brought me from Guatemala when I was four months old. And for the first time ever, I was going back to where I was born.

And that’s the beginning of my story.

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Yasmin and Musa

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o come with me to the place where I come from....

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hen I thought I could bring Skiperdee – remember him? He lives with me and my Mom and Dad and my 3 goldfish back in Brooklyn. Well, I thought I needed a ticket for him and of course, Skiperdee needed a suitcase. So I got him a suitcase that was all green with little spots on it.

Ha! Ha! I tricked you, he’s a turtle. There, I got you.

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Turtles are like art

And like floating air in the water And the designs on the shell Are like a leaf on the ground But a turtle is in the water Waiting for you!!! When you feed him You see his shell And a shell is not on you But behind you A shell as big as you! But you know You will sign your name Like it is on the shell.

Turtles are like a piece of scotchtape Taping the legs and head to the shell But the shell has to be green. Has a shell ever had a piece of paper?

A turtle shell is like a swirling star When you see his shell. But when you set him free But not so many people let turtles free. The turtles are like a quilt. But a turtle is not on you.

Turtle in an egg.

But a turtle scared you! No, a little turtle wouldn’t scare you.


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ur plane landed around 10 o’clock in the evening.

As soon as I got off the airplane, I remembered the smell of Guatemala.

Can you smell Guatelama in my drawing?

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e stayed in Guatemala City the first night and then took a car all the way to Lake Atitlan. Janie, my Mom’s friend and Lidia, a Mayan woman, were waiting there for us. We all took the lancha across the lake to San Pedro which is one of the 12 villages that surround the lake. They are all named after the 12 apostles.

This painting reminds me of Lake Atitlan.

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As soon as we got to San Pedro, I met our neighbor, Juan Manuel. He looked at me and the first thing he said was “Do you know that in the Maya calendar, it says that this is the year that all Maya will return? So welcome Yasmin!�

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saw children walking by themselves. was amazed because I don’t walk alone in the streets. Do you?

----------------------------------------------Write your answer up there where you see the dotted line.

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Now let’s meet my friends




y friends and I all played together, every single day. And I spoke Spanish with them. We played hide and seek all the time. There were so many secret places to hide, behind the house, the wood piles, the trees. It was my favorite game. Do you know what it’s called in Spanish? --------------------------------Write your answer on the dotted line. I do! Escondite!

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Here are my friends Ezekias, Chusita, Clarita, Miguel, and Luki.

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Can you believe it? All the kids in San Pedro liked to play basketball, even the girls. Ezekias was great at basketball. Now I play basketball too.

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Most of the time Chusita wears a corte but now she’s wearing my bluejean shorts.

I wore a corte all the time because all the girls did. I even wore a corte when I climbed trees. But when it was very hot, I took it off and I had shorts underneath.

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Luki took me all over San Pedro.

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Yasmin and Luki

I saw a girl at the table. I saw a dish at the table. I saw a leaf at the table. I saw a petal at the table. I saw the world at the table. And I saw you, you and YOU!

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We lived in a small house in San Pedro. I wished it were bigger because there was no living room. And I was sad. We didn’t have a TV but I had a Game Boy. Everyone wanted to play it, even when we climbed trees. Especially Ezekias. Lencho, Ezekias’ older brother, was lying when he said that he had slippery hands. He just didn’t know how to play my Game Boy. I was winning at Game Boy and Lencho said that he could win. But he couldn’t.

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climbed the same tree all the time.

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These are the fruits I ate in Guatemala.

And I ate jocote. It grew all over San Pedro, but especially in Clarita’s backyard.

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Crayons, crayons everywhere Do you see them in my hair? Upside down, in the tree Look at me They’re on my knee

They’re even on your shoulder too. And the horses have them, too On their tails, oh yes, they do.

Because the whole world is one big crayon, tooo! A big crayon.

The Big Earth is Dying The big Earth is crying Crying as much as can be Because it laid an egg Yes, it laid an egg. Then as it dies The new one rises Transferring the people Over to the new Earth. For the people who were living in the 1860’s till now

The graveyards are switching The houses are switching Everything’s switching to the New World Now the New World is here The trees are growing Seeds are sprouting Flowers are blooming Perhaps koalas are now in America And tigers in Australia And monkeys in Paris And the marsupials came to America And all the dinosaurs are back in their caves The dinosaurs are allowed here just like you and me We were both allowed to go back. God made us stay God’s not as mean as that God had to make up his mind Go back to the Old World and die Like God who goes into the new sky. Page 42


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zekias and me were having a horse race. I cheated because I said I won. But I really didn’t win. Then the man with the horses said. “Everyone, start running.”“Hoorah!” I said to myself. We rode past the house where we lived. We rode all the way down to the beach.

Yasmin and Ezekias

Did you ever go up a hill when you’re racing with someone else? Did you ever go down a hill racing against someone else? If you did, were you scared? Page 44


hen Miguel was saying whoa!, the horse started running. Faster and faster until the man said to Miguel, “Wait for me.” But the horse kept running. He said it again, “Wait for me!” And the horse stopped at that moment. Luki got scared and started crying.

Whaa! Whaa! Luki could not stop crying. So the man said “STOP, everyone!” When my horse got scared, he just started to pee. Luki got wet from the horse’s pee. Then all the horses looked at my horse and started to pee, too. Page 45

Once I said to my friends, “When a blue moon comes, a cat will be in your face.” But no one believed me. Then I shouted it again. “When a blue moon comes, a cat will be in your face.” I shouted it three times. And still no one believed me. Then I shouted so loud that they had to run away. They said, “Oh, yes, yes! Now we believe you.”

When the full moon came, I knew they really didn’t believe me... Page 46

When I went to Guatemala City, I was my silly old self and hid in the night table.

Remember, my favorite game is escondite. Do you think Ezekias could find me?

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You see that picture up there. That’s Lidia teaching me how to do beadwork. She helped me make my first bracelet which is at the bottom of this page. Lidia makes sashes, beadwork and sewing, knitting and things like that. That’s how she earns a living. But many of you out there make a living being a teacher, a lawyer, an artist, a scientist, anything but not with beadworking. I’m sure of that.

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A sash is called a faja. Lidia made me a beautiful faja all made out of beads. It took more than a month to make. It’s used to hold up the long skirts called cortes that all the women and girls in San Pedro wear. Otherwise your corte would fall down and everyone would see your underwear. Would you like that to happen?

Yasmin’s first bracelet.


went with Lidia to the lake to watch the fishermen catch fish. San Pedro is right on the lake, surrounded by volcanoes. Their boats are called cayucos and they were old and made of wood. The paint was coming off. The boats didn’t have any keels.

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he women went down to the lake to wash their clothes. They even washed their hair. I’m sure you’d rather wash clothes in the lake than in a washing machine. And wouldn’t you like to bathe in the lake instead of the shower? Then you could look up at the sky. Page 51

My Daddy came to visit us in San Pedro. Then we all went to Tikal to see the Mayan ruins. Those are my ancestors.

Daddy and me on top of the Temple.

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Now I build Mayan temples at home.

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In Guatemala, the colors are like little drops of rain falling from the sky. I see all those colors shining off the lake. The people make weavings and designs that are amazing. Sometimes, I think, everyone here is an artist.

Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez

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e all liked to draw together, either in my house when it rained or otherwise, outside. We used the crayons and markers I brought in my purple pencil case. Once, we all worked on the same drawing and just passed it around and around. Everyone added something to the picture.




ost of the time, we went to an artist’s house to eat lunch and dinner. While we ate, I always looked at the paintings on the wall. They were all made by Mayan artists.

Paintings by: Pedro Raphael Gonzalez Chavajay Page 58


nce I watched Pedro Raphael paint. I saw him dip the brush in oil paint just as softly as you would touch a baby. But once he pressed very hard. He said it took him a month to do just one painting.

I want to be an artist, too. Page 59

“Somos de mais. We are made of corn.” That’s what the Maya say. Every grain of corn is sacred. If a little kid steps on just one kernel, they’re punished.

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Tortillas are made of corn. The women grind the corn and then make tortillas. So they taught me to make tortillas, too. Just like Luki, Clarita and Chusita. If Ezekias comes to Brooklyn, he’ll say “Where are the tortillas?’

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You see that flame on the stove Just as you left it hundreds of years ago You sit there Oh, yes you do In the stove, just waiting for you Is your heart, your shadow, The music that you play for you, your family, Oh yes, you do Not a word comes out of it We will be waiting in the piano In the something, whatever you play, You will see me. Page 62

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Diego took Mommy through the mountains to see the men at work on their milpas where they grow corn and coffee. Only the men work there. Mommy had to get up at five in the morning because that’s when the men start working.

On the way back Mommy tripped on the rocks and could almost not walk. Diego came back that night to fix her leg because he’s a curandero. Page 64

That means a healer. You have to be born with that special gift. Diego’s father was a curandero, too. He taught Diego everything he knows.

Antonio Coche Mendoza

Diego wrapped Mommy’s bad leg in rags soaked in a special vinegar that Lidia heated up. He pressed very hard and I heard Mommy yell. But the next day she walked fine and had no pain. That’s why Diego’s a curandero. Page 65


was born with special gifts, too. That’s what the Maya calendar reader told me. Since my symbol is the sun, I attract people to me. That’s why I have many friends. If you look up in the sky, you might see two big clouds trying to hide the sun. But the sun pushes through the clouds. That’s just like me. And that’s also why my bug bites are very hot. Also, I can see things before they happen. Sometimes in dreams. I told Mommy a long time ago that I have a television in my mind and I can turn it on and see all kinds of things. Everybody has gifts they were born with. What are yours?

What color do you think these Mayan hyroglyphs should be? You can color them in yourself.

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he second night back home from Guatemala, I dreamt that my friends, Ezekias, Luki, Clarita and Chusita came to Brooklyn to play with me and they all could speak English.

I was so happy that I had that dream. Page 67


n Brooklyn, once, I saw a girl in the park who looked just like me. But in San Pedro everyone looked like me. They even called me a Pedrana because I wore a corte all the time. The people in San Pedro speak Zu’tuhil. But they also speak Spanish. So do I. Sometimes when I would speak to my Mommy or Janie in English, everyone would stop to listen. “Hey,” they would say. “This little Pedrana speaks English. Come and listen. You won’t believe it.” Where I live, everyone looks different and they even speak different languages. I like that. I have Chinese friends and African-American friends. Daddy was born in Romania and Grandpa comes from Germany. That’s why I call him Opi. It’s like candy madeup of all different kinds of things.

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was sad to leave my friends in Guatemala. But Mommy promised that we could come back next summer.

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Yasmin and Lidia.

Bye Bye! Adios ! Jat k’a!

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Profile for Fran Antmann

I Remember the Smell of Guatemala  

by Yasmin & Fran Antmann

I Remember the Smell of Guatemala  

by Yasmin & Fran Antmann