Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Trip to New Communities

On Saturday I took my good friend Doña Felipa, a midwife and herbalist, back to her village, Tibolon. We left Xualtez early where she had spent the week in the clinic giving massages. We passed through Espita and headed south into a very marginalized zone. We went through the communities of Nacuche, Kunche and San Pedro Chenchela where the blacktop road ended. We traveled on four kilometers along a traditional, rural sac beh, or white road until we reached Santa Maria. There the road had recently been blacktopped and we headed on toward Tibolon passing Uayma, Tinum, Dzitas, Xocempich, Piste, Yodzonot, Libre Union, and Holca. We reached Tibolon where we ate and rested for a while. We then travelled south to the municipal head of Sotuta, town of the Maya chief Nachi Cocom. Doña Felipa took me to a house that also doubled as a motorcycle repair shop where in their backyard, a very nice family charged us the equivalent of 1USD to show use the cenote which they called Dzonot Miis, or Cat Cenote. They had discovered it when they dug a water well and noticed that there was a huge cave filled with water under their backyard. I took a few pictures of the family, along with Doña Felipa’s compadres across the street and we went on to Tabi.

Tabi has an open cenote in the center of the village. While looking at it a man was eager to tell me the history of his community. Doña Felipa knows several herbalists and healers that live there and we went to visit one, Don Florencio, who she had not seen since he suffered a stroke. I realized that it was 85 year-old Don Florencio who had done a ritualistic cleansing of me 8 years ago. He is regaining some strength on his right side and has begun to work again as a healer on occasion. The rain clouds started to build as we headed farther east to the town of Yaxcaba. There Doña Felipa introduced me to Don Juan Bautista, the healer in charge of the local Center for the Development of Traditional Indigenous Medicine. As a strong storm passed over us and his gardens of medicinal plants, he told me about his work and how he is teaching his grandchildren how to also heal with herbs. The rain passed and Doña Felipa and I left going back toward Tabi. We passed through the community and on the western edge we noticed women participating in a novena at a stone shrine adorned with wooden crosses, candles and flowers. Their singing and praying coincided with the Cha’a Chaak ceremony being held by the men a few hundred meters down the road where I was invited to take some pictures. There was a big difference in this ceremony and that of Tixbacab about which I posted a few weeks ago. The altar was much more traditional as you will be able to see in the album below made completely of materials from the forest. The same rain that passed over Yaxcaba, also passed over Tabi. I was told that this was a good sign because the rains have not been as consistent as they usually are prompting the people of Tabi to come together and hold the ceremony again after three years of not doing it. Doña Felipa and I left Tabi and visited her new grandson in Sotuta, one of 35 grandchildren. I took her back to Tibolon, and then arrived to Merida late after a day filled with visiting new communities, meeting new people and having experiences that I will never forget.

See the album below for photographs with captions describing these people and places.

Sotuta, Tabi, Yaxcaba


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