August 8, 2012
From the journals of: D’Lynn and Erica
Every night we meet as a group and Erica reads from “I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala.” We are moved each night as she speaks the powerful stories that the indigenous-activist-feminist community organizer shares with us. The students have been thoughtful and reflective about the ways that they understand the inequalities, systems and injustices that have led to this divided space in Comalapa. The students are asking pressing questions to try to understand the history of the people, the silenced genocide that took place, and the ways that it should, and must, inform our present and future. Recognizing the past, present and the future as needed ingredients for a well balanced salsa is something that we should all embrace. Today, the students learned to make multiple salsas from a wise and gentle 16-year-old with a story much like many of ours/theirs. Roberto’s desire to share his knowledge and skills ran deep within him as he remained focused during our group’s constant stream of questions, comments, thoughts, and cultural comparisons. His salsas were delicious and his company was energizing and calming at the same time. The salsas he created were as diverse as our group. Some were spicy and others were unpredictably flavorful, surprising us by the difference between their smell and taste. He emphasized the importance of making food from whole ingredients and using proper technique even if you can’t get the exact ingredients you’d like. Roberto cooking salsas on the plancha (traditional wood-fired stove) is a radical act. He said he is only one of two men in Guatemala willing to break stereotypical gender roles to cook food, a role typically reserved for women. Roberto has been cooking since he was 9 and I can’t help but think of the children of Tecnico Maya many of whom understand the gender roles and some of whom are already question them. Tonight’s reading from Rigoberta Menchu’s autobiography included a section about how during the civil conflict, gender roles disappeared as the communities fought to preserve their land, rights, and culture. Whether it’s making salsa, defending your land, or playing blob tag, the lines that divide us must be blurred to create solutions and progress.
“Don’t wait for strangers to remind you of your duty, you have a conscience and a spirit for that. All the good you do must come from your own initiative.” -Popol Vuh