Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tecpán: One year later

In the grand scheme of things, Patzún and Tecpán are a lot more similar than they are different. They're both relatively small cities (pop: ~20k) in the Guatemalan Highlands separated by only a 40 minute trip on the highway. But after three weeks in Patzún, Tecpán felt like a world apart.

On Monday, June 19th Paulina and I took the short trip in the afternoon to reconnect with our host families from last year. Unlike this year, where we spent the entire month of the Field School in Patzún, last year's Field School was split - 2 weeks in Tecpán learning Kaqchikel in the Wuqu' Kawoq offices, followed by 2 weeks in Patzún doing fieldwork. As some of the only returning members from last year's trip, we thought it'd be nice to pay a short visit to our host families in Tecpán.

Me with my Tecpán host family (Doña Mercedes and Don Pedro) - June, 2016
The most noticeable differences between Patzún and Tecpán is the population, officially Tecpán is bigger by just 3,000 or so, but it feels much larger than that. Plus, proximity to the Iximche ruins brings in many tour groups and there a number of NGOs located in the city. Of course, there are more amenities to accompany this influx of people including cafes, coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants. You're also more likely to hear Spanish than Kaqchikel in Tecpán.

A lot had changed in the city, as well. The amount of new construction that's taken place in the past year was astounding, and faced with the new terrain, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get back to my host family's house! But once we were dropped off at the Wuqu' Kawoq offices, memories of the walking back in the light afternoon rain came back to me quickly and finding my way to my home in Tecpán was second nature. When I arrived, the changes kept coming. The entry way to my host families house was occupied by a small gift shop, at the street corner outside was a new bus stop, the entire kitchen had been gutted to make way for a massive renovation, and the oven, and refrigerator were being temporarily housed in the hallway. My host family has always liked taking in guests. And upstairs, my room was completely gone! A new addition was being put in to accommodate up to 6 people at a time, ensuring the new kitchen will be put to good use.

Despite all the changes, the house still felt like a home away from home. My host parents,  Doña Mercedes and Don Pedro greeted me with the same warmth and enthusiasm as they had each day of my stay with them the year before, and they eagerly told me about all the comings and goings of the year that had been. They were happy to hear about all the changes in my life and glad to see I was continuing to learn Kaqchikel and research Mayan languages.

After just a few hours with them, I was sad to leave, but was content to know that, despite so many changes that happened over the year, the fond memories and feelings that I shared with my host family in 
Tecpán had not changed, at all.

PS: The cat got fatter, too. 
Kiara - 2016



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