I’m back in Guatemala again, this time bringing a group of seven awesome women with me on a Heartfire Journeys tour. We started off yesterday visiting the ruins of Iximche, where we took part in a traditional Mayan fire ceremony and blessing by a Mayan priestess – on International Women’s day, no less. It was a very moving ceremony, which included individual information for each of us based on our birthdate – a kind of Mayan zodiac system based on your birth date, month and year. According to this, your “nawal” is determined, which includes an animal (mine is the jaguar), a color (white) and an element (air). Her information to me was uncannily spot-on, and others in the group felt the same. The fire ceremony also had a healing aspect, a ritual of walking counter-clockwise around the fire with intention and prayer. The priestess radiated the unmistakable energy of a wise and beautiful soul, and we remarked how authentic the ceremony felt – not like something done just for tourists.
Today we visited Mayan Families, a nonprofit in Panajachel that offers a variety of services for indigenous families. We had collected a large number of donations that we brought from home – everything from kids underwear to Tupperware. I had posted on Nextdoor – a neighborhood listserve – that I was taking donations to Guatemala, and I received so many very generous responses that I had to stop accepting them as I had no more room in the two suitcases I brought. One woman donated two huge bags of boys’ clothing and shoes, as her two sons that she had adopted from Guatemala had outgrown them. Another man offered to buy some new things. I suggested socks and underwear as those are not great used. He did that, and also bought two brand-new laptops for the schools we’re visiting in a few days! I was so very touched by their generosity!
Anyway, at Mayan Families we got an overview of the many programs the offer, from sewing classes for women – who then get to keep the sewing machine when they complete the course – to their preschools and health clinics. We donated and built two stoves that reduce firewood consumption and eliminate smoke in the homes, and also sponsored a lunch and bingo game (with prizes, which was where the Tupperware came in) for the elderly in a nearby village. Although we had a three-language translation, from their native Kaqchikel to Spanish then to English, we still communicated quite well with smiles and pointing and pantomime. These lunches help avoid the isolation that can happen for the elderly, and we felt honored to be able to join in with them for a day.