Once again, we begin our Sunday program at dawn! We want to take a last impression of the market atmosphere and shoot some scenes for our documentary of this symptomatic moment of life in Tecpán. However, today is not a Sunday like the others in the small town of Chimaltenango department: a great bike race has transformed the central square of the city, on which usually part of the market. Stands of products and sports brands are superimposed around a large stage, on which huge speakers are arranged. Coming from all over the country, cyclists cross the finish line one by one, while some of the inhabitants of Tecpán look from afar at what is happening in their city. The atmosphere is very different from other days.
We quickly escape from the center and take the direction of more distant lanes, in which was relocated the market. We walk in the heart of the various stands, listen for the last time the fruit and vegetable vendors shouting at the top of the day’s offers … After presenting ourselves and asking for their agreement, we manage to film some women who came to sell the family productions of fruits and vegetables on the market. However, unlike the days we work with Wuqu’Kawoq, it is not always easy to be legitimate in such an approach. We must face the refusal of several people who prefer not to be filmed. We can easily understand such mistrust: on several occasions, we have seen posters in public buildings showing the prevention of human trafficking in Guatemala. On these posters, we usually see a man (apparently Western) who wants to take a woman and her children in photo and an explanatory text that recalls the reality of human trafficking in Central America – prostitution, organ trafficking, enslavement . Once the camera is tidy, we continue our shopping for our last days in Tecpán. Avocados, pineapple and cilantro bought, we can turn back and cook our food for lunch.
Barely having time to finish eating, and we plunged back into the list of things we must do, within 48 hours of departure. While Eléa and Chorkin synchronize all of their videos and verify that all the documents are saved, Penelope and Laura are working on the program for the next six months (we reserve the details of all this for the next article …). A certain feeling of nostalgia seizes us, in turn …
We then escape a few moments from the house to find the mother of Esperanza sewing, in the shade, in the flowery courtyard of the house. Sitting against the laundry, she plays with her fingers to unravel a reel of black thread. Patient and soothed, she shows us what she does and looks at us smiling for long moments. She speaks to us in Kaqchikel, but we have trouble understanding. To overcome the frustration of not being able to fully grasp this woman’s ills, we embark on an intuitive dialogue, made of gestures and some key words in Spanish. At the moment of taking a picture of her, she reconciles herself, braids her long hair around her head and sketches a humble smile.
As the sun begins to hide behind the surrounding hills, Esperanza returns from work. Mother and daughter go to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. “Mamicita,” as Esperanza calls her, is 82 years old. She has alzheimer: “ahora, soy la madre y ella es mi niña” (now I’m the mother and she’s the girl!), Says Esperanza laughing.
“My old years are sad,” says Esperanza’s mother, as her eyes fill with tears. Esperanza explains that the last few years have been difficult for her mother, as well as the whole family: the first son, a soldier, was assassinated by the political authorities 6 years ago; two years later, the second was killed by a group of thieves for money; and 6 months ago, the father of the family died. Silence fills the kitchen, Esperanza and her mother look at each other for a long time. The tears flowing down their cheeks express the strength and courage of these women, who carry the weight of their stories.
Esperanza’s sister, who lives in the house next door, joins us in the kitchen.
Life then continues at its normal flow. Esperanza reignites the fire in the stove, while her sister launches into the preparation of tamales. She dynamically mixes the prepared corn dough, rolls it and cuts it into pieces and puts it in dried leaves. She then arranges them in a large pan heated by the flames of the stove, before watering them with water. It’s a traditional dish, she explains. While the tamales are cooking, she speaks to us of her daily life in Tecpán. She works two days a week and the rest of the time she weaves to pay for school and school for her children. One of her daughters has nerve disorders and has epileptic seizures regularly. She had to stop school 5 years ago because she could not stay focused long enough. She is now 20 years old and helps her mother at home.
After this afternoon spent with the family of Esperanza, we come back home and we activate the preparation of our suitcases … It is only 5 minutes that the door is closed, when we hear ringing. This is our friend Esperanza – not our host, but the one with whom we went to marriage and Antigua! She came to bring us biscuits still hot, to wish us a good return to France. Such attention has really touched us!
Barely time to start cooking it is our host, Esperanza, who comes to ring: “Chicas! Chicas! “. We open the door and she gives us a plate with a “tortilla española” and the famous tamales! We will sit down to table faster than expected …
About twenty minutes later, we hear knocking again. It is Esperanza’s sister who comes to join us to offer us four tortillas covers, which she sewed by hand. “It’s to thank you for coming and sharing your time with us. I would have liked to spend more time with you, but I had to work. Thank you and come back well. Take care of yourself! “She says to us with a soft voice. She takes the arm of each of us and kisses us: that’s how greetings are made in Guatemala. It is difficult to describe the innumerable emotions that have crossed us at this precise moment … The extreme recognition for the welcome and kindness of all the people we met; the sadness of leaving the small town of Tecpán and its inhabitants; and, admiration for the humility, the strength and the courage of all the women we have worked with and from whom we have learned so much so far … We will go tomorrow to buy flowers and cards to thank our host , his sister and his mother for so much sharing and kindness.