Prev Witness for Peace
Guatemala 2000
A photo journal by David Booth

Day 6 Part 2 - Arrival in returned-refugee village Nuevo Mexico, meeting our host family

At last we arrived in Nuevo Mexico for our three-day stay with returned refugees.   The WFP team leaders have made arrangements for us to stay with selected village families -- two or three delegates per family.  My dad, WFT team leader Jesse and I stayed with a family of ten: two parents, seven children, and one grandchild.  We didn’t want to be a drain on the resources of our host families, so we all brought a few basic food supplies to offset our consumption during our stay: some rice, beans, tomatoes and onions.  

The village of Nuevo Mexico consists of about 100 families from seven different ethnic groups.  All are returned refugees.   The families did not know each other before arriving here from their refugee camps in Mexico or other neighboring countries, and they are not all from the same areas of Guatemala originally.  Our WFP team leaders were careful to ensure that those of us who did not speak Spanish were paired with someone who could translate, as none of the families spoke any English.  In fact, many of these villagers didn't even speak Spanish: they spoke various indigenous languages, such as Quiche or Kekchi. 

The homes are dispersed in Nuevo Mexico, with rough paths connecting them.   Individual homes do not have running water or electricity, but they do have some electricity for a few shared services.  

Nuevo Mexico (1151.17 Kb) We arrive in Nuevo Mexico.  On the left is our van.  The police escort truck is on the right, in front of the church.

Joanne with police driver (272.87 Kb) Joanne thanks the driver of our police escort.

Concrete block house (1324.45 Kb) A home in Nuevo Mexico.  Some are built from concrete blocks, others from wood.

Cynthia and Marinetta walking away (1562.68 Kb) Cynthia and Marinetta walk off to find their assigned host family.

Joanne with Catherine waving (906.54 Kb) Joanne and Catherine (waving) head for their host family.

Vincenta making tortillas (1383.99 Kb) We arrive at our host family’s home as the mother, Vincenta, 36, is preparing to make tortillas.   A daughter Anaberta, 6, gazes at us with curiosity.

Vincenta with wood cooking stove (266.67 Kb) Vincenta pats out tortillas and bakes them on a wood cooking stove.   The stove has no chimney: the smoke goes out through openings in the corrugated metal roof.  The walls of the house are just a single layer of vertical boards, with gaps between them about an inch wide, so there is plenty of ventilation.

David making tortillas with children watching (253.76 Kb) After washing my hands from a jug of water (the homes have no running water or electricity), I try my hand at making tortillas, much to the amusement of the oldest daughter Vidalia, 18, in the background, and her brother Otto, 4.

Jesse making tortillas with children watching (873.52 Kb) Team leader Jesse also takes his turn at making tortillas as more of the family looks on, amused.

Eluvia with cat (873.52 Kb) Daughter Eluvia, 8, shows us her cat.

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All text and photos by David Booth unless otherwise indicated.
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