Maya-Mam Market Culture – Living Local in Guatemala

Sunday was market-day in Comitancillo with farmers from all over the region converging, and transforming the quiet streets to sell their goods. Here are a variety of regional chile peppers and dried fish.

They arrived at 4 o’clock in the morning. Outside my hotel window in the cobbled streets below, men and women arrived from the countryside, or from smaller towns and villages around Comitancillo, with their tables and poles and blue and black tarpaulins and their bulging sacks of whatever it was …

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Indigenous Farmers Confront Canada’s Goldcorp

Tomasa at her home in Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo Credit - KJ Dakin)

Lines etch across Tomasa Perez Jimenez’s tawny features as her eyes study her floor. The cracked earth contrasts with the party pink of her traditional blouse. Her voice is quiet and steady as she discusses the mine that has been operating on her doorstep for more than a decade. “In …

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Behind the Canadian Flag – Mining in Central America

Mother and daughter farmers with their children and grandchildren in Comitancillo, Guatemala.

Seven years ago, I broke the stitches that secured the Canadian flag to my bright blue backpack. It was a symbolic act. It was a traveller’s coming of age moment when I realized that I was no longer proud of my country’s political reputation abroad. When I was 19, I …

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Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Indigenous seed saving in Tuixcajchis (Photo by KJ Dakin)

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds …

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Women Who Dig – Runner-Up in Briarpatch’s Creative Writing Contest

Woman from Comitancillo (Photo by KJ Dakin)

Before we talk, we eat. Aurelia has laid out lunch on the long skinny table. She’s prepared dishes that give homage to maíz, corn – the food that defines Mayan-Mam cultural heritage of the Comitancillo highlands of northwestern Guatemala. There’s sopa de res y maíz, beef and corn soup, and heavy …

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Local Author to Focus on Women Farmers

Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo by KJ Dakin)

While resting in the frozen hills of the Peace Country a couple of weeks back, I was happy to digest my travel and research experiences and share more about my story with local reporter, Kristjanna Grimmelt. Here’s a link to a story Kristjanna wrote and published in the Peace River …

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Her Worth, Her Work on International Women’s Day

Women digging, Uganda.

She may not seem significant to you because she’s holding the hand-hoe, feeding the pigs, or hauling broken laundry basket filled with carrots still clinging to the soil. But her work is the definition of work in the truest sense. She puts her intellectual, physical, emotional and according to some …

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Photos from the Field – Comitancillo, Guatemala

It was my first time collaborating with a photojournalist to capture stories. Here is the wildly talented and wildly wonderful, KJ Dakin and a few curious children standing by.

You don’t wait for chicken buses in Guatemala. You get pushed onto them, literally, and within seconds become one with a noisy chugging engine, far too many bodies pressed together on seats, and ranchara music assaulting your ears for the entire (tiresome) journey. Alas… And then you wake up and …

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Women Who Dig – Research in Central America

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Tomorrow evening I’ll descend on Guatemala City. I’m already anticipating the scattered, erratic twinkling of city lights, countered by the pockets of dark as I fall down, down onto the continent I’ve known and fallen in love with over the past ten years – though it isn’t my motherland. It’s …

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My Three Sisters – Outliers Against Conventional Agriculture

Mural in Managua, Nicaragua.

My good luck last week came with the rain. It had been bone dry in Kabale for over three weeks. The sun had baked the clay soil hard as a hockey puck. My garden was thirsty. And I was thirsty (and exhausted) from hauling water up the steep concrete steps that led …

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A,B,C,D,E is for Ecological Education in Guatemala

School children at Tuixoquel, Comitancillo.

Promoting ‘education’ is just one of the many banners that government and development organizations love to wave as solutions to complex issues that cause poverty and disease. Build a school, fund curriculum development, pay teacher’s salaries. And so forth. Unfortunately, applying the broad stroke of ‘education’ can also cause more …

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