Yesterday Suzannah (my landlady) and I went to the central park with to play the accordion.   Over a period of time, a number of children came up close to investigate, made eye contact with me, and eventually drifted off.  The adults did not acknowledge that they were paying any attention to me, but some of them sat down for a while at a discreet distance.  Two men came over to talk to Suzannah, and one of them told me he plays the accordion, so I asked him if he wanted to play a couple of tunes on mine.

A gaggle of high school boys sat down across from me.  

When I finished a song they applauded loudly and asked for another.  I commented to Suzannah that they clearly had been exposed to foreign influences.

Today Miguel led me on a tour of Santiago, much as it hurt my pride to be seen shepherded around town by a guide.  It was worth the cost just to learn about a trail from our house to the center of town, avoiding the noisy road.  The most interesting place we went was the cofradía of Santa Cruz.  The cofradías were created by Spanish priests in colonial days, to convert the natives to Christianity.  They developed into a syncretistic form of religion.  The Mayans were flexible about re-naming their gods as Christ, Mary, and various saints in order to evade the inquisition.  Today there are three main religious institutions in Guatemala:  the traditional Roman Catholic church, the Evangelical churches, and the cofradías, which preserve something of the old indigenous religions.  Miguel is a leader in one of the cofradías, but I noticed that when we toured the Catholic church, he genuflected and crossed himself.

The Santa Cruz cofradía is the current home of Maximon, not a Christian saint, but an image of a Tz’utujil “abuelo,” as Miguel put it; that is, grandfather, or maybe ancestor.

Some things to notice are the Stetson hat, the cigar, and about a hundred neckties and scarves with money tucked under them.  Not visible are the bottles of rum and candles on the floor.  There are images of several Christian saints in the room, including San Juan Bautizo:


I did not get a photo of Santa Cruz herself because several people were sitting in front of her and I didn’t want to point my camera in that direction because then they would all move out of the way, but she was laid out prone on a mattress on top of a coffin and surrounded by decorations, including a colorfully painted ceramic teddy bear.