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Village Elder Stories

A historical perspective of Mayan life in the 20th century is provided through 13 stories written about village elders. Each story is a life retrospective pertaining to a particular chapter.

- Village Elder Story Listing -
Introduction Section

Daughter of the Sun
(Juana Bolon, San Antonio)

Juana Bolon
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Eilsea Bol
Breaking the Mold

(Elisea Bol, San Antonio)
Abolonia Bah
A Mayan Child is Born

(Abolonia Bah,
Santa Ana)
A Young Man in Charge
(Ignacio Bolon,San Antonio)
Ignatio Bolon
An Uncommon Marriage

(Ignacio and Juana Bolon)

Read Story Teaser

Maria Ico

Life and Work of a Mayan Woman

(Maria Ico, San Marcos)

Read Story Teaser

Strength Between Family Members
(Anonymous female)


The Education of A Senator
(Thomas Salaam Sr., Punta Gorda)

Thomas Salaam, Sr.
Read story Teaser

Memoirs of A Village Leader
(Marcus Bah, Santa Ana)

A Nurse's Story
(Emelia Chun, San Antonio)


Sabastian Max
The Story Teller
(Sabastian Max, San Miguel)

Read Story Teaser

The Maya and Their Environment

Manuella Cus

With Her Own Two Hands
(Manuela Cus, Aguacate/Silver Creek)

The Whistler
(Santiago Coc, San Pedro Columbia)
Santiago Coc
Read Story Teaser
Daughter of the Sun
Juana's mother was frightened when she bore her baby girl. So frightened, she decided that she didn't want the infant. She wouldn't breast feed her. In fact, she wrapped the baby in a piece of cloth, set her in a piece of card board, and placed little Juana under in the corner to die. Read the life story of the only contemporary Mayan albino.
Life and Work of a Mayan Woman
She sits on the bed while we talk. Her 82-year-old eyes have seen their share of life. Maria Ico looks around the room today and witnesses the gathering of four generations of females. Not unusual for her, as she has been involved in raising each of these generations.

Maria speaks in Q'eqchi' to her daughter Natividad One of Natividad's daughters, Christina, sits and listens to the conversation while Florita, Christina's niece and the youngest female at age 6, walks around the room unaware of the conversation's importance.

Years from now, Florita may be interested in answers to questions being asked today. She will see and experience many things that her great grandmother will not. Yet she may wonder, someday when her eyes are old like Maria's are today, what it was like to be a Q'eqchi' woman in the 1930s. She may look to her grandmother Natividad and wonder what experiences she had as a young woman as well.

Just in case Florita has questions about the life of these Q'eqchi' women sitting in the room today, her great-grandmother, grandmother, and aunt provide the answers. This story is for Florita.

An Uncommon Marriage
The Bolon's have been married for 62 years. They've been taking care of each other for a long time. As they discuss their engagement and marriage they banter back and forth. They smile at each other as they correct the other on details. One can see that after all of these years they are still very happy sharing everyday life. Ignacio Bolon tells us, through one of his granddaughters, our interpreter, that his life got much better that day in 1938, when he saw Juana Chen for the first time.
Education of A Senator
Ask Thomas Salaam Sr. and he'll tell you that his educational experience has lasted a lifetime. While enrolled in formal education for a relatively short period of time, he always took advantage of opportunities to learn new skills and gain knowledge. To his credit are four Mayan "firsts" which helped define not only the movement of the Mayan culture, but also who he is today. This 75 year old Mopan Mayan and world traveler has the distinction of being the 1st Toledo District Mayan to:

drive a truck (1949)
be commissioned as a Justice of the Peace (1958)
be appointed as a Senator (1969)
be appointed to the Belize Advisory Council (1992)

The Story Teller
Imagine being eight years of age, sitting on the ground outside an old man's house. It is 1929. You and your village friends are gathered around this man and other elder villagers. They begin to tell a story. You have heard this one before, but you can't resist hearing it again. You stay and listen because it is filled with magic. Your favorite part is when the gods talk or the animals play games with one another. But the story also helps you understand why you believe the things you do. It helps you to be part of your culture. You do not know it now, but one day you too will be an old man and young people will ask you to tell this same story - over and over - so that they can understand as well. Enter the world of eight year old Sabastian Max, the man who grew up to be the storyteller.
The Whistler
Originally hired in his youth to clear away bush that enveloped the ancient Mayan city site of Lubaantun, Santiago Coc returned to the ruins twenty-five years ago to assume the role of caretaker. Over the years Santiago has been present during the unearthing of clay figurines that are unique to Lubaantun. He loves the figurines as much as he respects the craftsmen who made them in the 10th century. Santiago's feelings for his Mayan ancestors and their art evolved into a craft that he can call his own. Read about how he becomes "The Whistler".