IMG_0205It's 3:42 a.m.

The bombs are bursting in air, along with firecrackers and rockets, and music is playing over a loud speaker, while a man yells into a microphone in Spanish.

I nudge my husband. "Are you awake?"

"Yes," he grumbles.

"You're supposed to wish me Happy Mother's Day."

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Incomprehensibly, this is how they celebrate here in Guatemala. By waking up mother's with fireworks and blaring music, before dawn begins to crack. How this honor mothers, I do not know...

The music and fireworks continue until I finally pull myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. to study. Greg has already been up for almost two hours.

But it was the day before that most families in town actually celebrated the holiday, because May 10th this year fell on a Friday... and Friday is market day.

For this reason, the local school held their Mothers Day program on Thursday, so more mothers would be able to attend, instead of being gone making the trip to Solola to shop at the mercado.

The daughter of our guardian here at The Homestead -- her name is Marina -- she invited Kyah and me and my friend Lucy to attend the program with her, her mother and her grandmother. We accepted.

Their family lives on the 2 acres of The Homestead. We were told to meet them at their house at 8:30 a.m. But they were running late. Grandma was still washing her hair when we arrived.


Finally at 9 a.m. we were ready to go, including momma with baby on her back.


It was such a beautiful day, I was inclined to walk, but we decided to drive because we thought we were running late. It's a good thing we did. It was far.

When we finally arrived at the school, we heard children yell, "The gringoes have arrived!" I guess they've heard about our recent move into the area.

They weren't ready to begin the program (we later discovered we were actually an hour early, but Marina was excited to introduce us to her friends.) So we spent our time playing basketball, talking to the kids, and taking pictures. (I took lots of pictures.)

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The kids were very fascinated with the camera, but had mixed reactions. Some wanted their picture taken, others ran away or hid if I lifted it to my face to take a shot (one little teeny girl even started crying.) We've heard before that some of the older generation believes having their picture taken steals their soul. Maybe some of the kids believe it??

All of them loved to see their image on the view screen. I plan to have the pictures printed out, and take a copy back to them.

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Aren't they beautiful?

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The girls really wanted a picture taken with Aaliyah.

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This kid was quite talkative, and very smart. He knew a few words in English too.

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An impromptu portrait session began. I took more than a dozen individual photos of the kids. Here's a couple.

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She was so serious...

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But then I got her personality to come out. Her name is Sofia.

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They asked me lots of questions. "Where are we from?" "What kind of food do we eat?" "Where did I buy my camera?" "How much did it cost?" They had a hard time understanding that it was from

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Some of the classrooms...

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This is where they keep the toothbrushes... interesting. This tells you something. (Many of the kids have rotted teeth already.)

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The older grades are learning English. Kaqchikel and Spanish are also taught.

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The toy section... notice that one of the toys is a toilet brush... ???

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This beautiful lady was fixing her hair.

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This is how many of the indigenous women wear their hair.

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They're finally getting set up for the program to start.

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The M.C. said some nice words, about how mothers do everything for us (including wiping our boogers), and are filled with unconditional love for their children. He said some funny things about how fathers get up after their wives, and go to bed before them, and the mothers do all the hard work in the house.

Each of the grades did a dance. You can watch clips of them on the video.

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I had mixed feelings about this, especially because these beautiful girls changed out of their traditional traje into their 'costumes' (Western clothing -- the girl in the skirt borrowed her clothes from Kyah), then did a dance which is essentially shaking their bodies to hip-hop music with lyrics such as "I love your body, come with me to bed," and "Condom star, hey sexy lady." Hmmm... pretty sad. I even teared up thinking about the destruction of culture and tradition due to 'Western' influence.

After the performances (which lasted quite a while... every song seemed to be ten minutes long), the mothers were called up and presented with cards, then given gifts, and finally we ate lunch.

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Mother's Day Chaca - 118Many of them were carrying babies on their backs

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These pots were HUGE!

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It was lots of fun.

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And Lucy got to hold the baby. 🙂

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We didn't finish up until around 1pm, much longer than we'd anticipated. But I enjoyed it, and even had idealistic thoughts of returning more often to contribute and help out in some way... we'll see if that happens.

How did you celebrate Mothers Day?



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2 Responses

  1. catherineforest

    I LOVE the photos, Rachel! They speak so much of that day! I totally relate to how you felt about the dancing… I had that same experience in our little village in CR… They actually still did the traditional dancing with the traditional clothes AND got changed and did the American dancing with very sexy moves… (and you could see in their attitudes which one they prefered performing…). It felt really weird and inappropriate… and yes, quite disapointing… We wanted them to be so pround of their country’s heritage…


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