Ch'ol Maya: tour guide
I met Miguel at the ruins of Chicanná. I then asked him to take us to Hormiguero as it is tricky to get to. And then we spent the rest of the day with him as we also went to his family home in the village of Becán.
Miguel works as a guide at the ruins sites and sometimes he bikes all the way to Calakmul; other times you can find him at Becán where he lives. There are 60 families in the village; most of them lived here all their life. The village has one small ranch; the rest of the people try to earn money outside the village. Some of them live in typical Mayan houses, made of wood, but most by now have brick houses, although pretty basic.
Miguel grows in his gardens avocado trees, limes and mandarins and he grows beans and chilli. They all collect rainwater in large cisterns; each house has one, although each village also has a common cistern and allocates a certain amount of water per household. On the day of our visit to their house, Miguel's wife Fabiana was running the washing machine for several loads, because it had rained the night before our visit. How in-tuned with nature their life is.
Miguel is a Ch’ol Maya, originally from Tabasco, although his parents and grandparents are from Palenque. All three generations have resettled wherever they found work. In his view, this is how the Maya always lived: moving for work wherever they could find it. Miguel works as a guide. The guide course and licence cost him 20,000 pesos. Bear that in mind when you hire the local guides. In addition, Miguel raises chickens and then sells them in the village. His wife Fabiana is a Ch’ol Maya from Chiapas, but her parents are from Becán and that is why they settled here. Fabiana makes hammocks for a living and sells them through a women's co-operative in the village of Xpujil. Their daughter has finished her university studies and lives with them now. She works at the Town Council of Xpujil and commutes (she just bought her own second-hand car, the first one in the family). Her two brothers study architecture at the University of Chetumal. The parents give them every penny they can, to support their education, although Miguel admitted that they also get financial support from the government (grant). They believe that education is the most important factor for the contemporary Maya to move on with their careers and the new life style that goes with it.