Santa Maria Poniente

I made my first visit to an ejido today, and I ended up driving since the two europeans* in the back wanted to talk to each other and alfredo is just learning to drive. After a long ride filled with speed bumps which I never seem to notice until its too late, we arrived at the ejido Santa Maria Poniente, the fifth such comunity on the road.

We drove through the town rather quickly, but I had time to wonder at the beautiful homes of stick walls and palm roofs (palizada y huano), and at the massive tree that graced the town center. We were pretty late, so we picked up the two guys who were waiting on the roots of the tree and headed into the woods.

The road into the logging site was rocky and tough to handle in our lit
tle truck, a little bit hideous, as Umberto says in the video below:

Once we got to the first bajadilla, or log landing, the Gueritos sprung into action, asking questions (which no one understood) about the types of wood and how it was extracted. They've been having a lot of trouble communicating, since they spoke little to no Spanish when they arrived, and Spanish is a second language to the Mayans in many of the ejidos.

We pushed on until we found the loggers, a small team made up of a chainsawer, his helper, and a
"Trifarmer" machine to go after and pull out the logs. I got a little clip of the Trifarmer in action:

We ran across several chicozapote trees, easily recognizaple by the hatch marks from Chicle extraction. Even though chicle isn't selling at a great price, the product is so ingrained in Mayan culture that its often the only tree which is not cut down when the ejidatarios make "Milpa," their word for slash and burn farms. The season for tapping chicle starts in September, so I'm going to miss it unfortunately, but it seems like its not going to be hard to find people who are involved in the activity, since that category includes every male ever.

I kept talking to umberto and asked him about the way in which money and work is distributed in the ejido:

On the way back, Umberto told me about the differece between their local variety of corn and the hybrid stuff we eat: their corn is for eating, ours is for selling. Mayans store corn in a little structure in the Milpa, and apparently the Hybrid corn doesn't keep very long in those conditions. When I asked him where their variety had come from, he told me it came from "los antiguos," the third such reference of the day. It feels pretty epic since in English, "los antiguos" legitimately translates to "the ancients."**

*Note: At first the folks at OEPF were calling these two carpertry technology students from Austria and Germany "Gringos," but since I showed up and they're not from the US they are now being called "Gueritos."

**Was that a stargate reference? Yes, yes it was.

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