A Tightly Woven Community
Updated: Nov 23, 2018
San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
There is an amazing sense of community in San Pedro. The population is around 13,000 people, and yet everyone seems to know each other.
Recently there was a sudden death in the community. My Spanish teacher explained some of the traditions surrounding death and grieving in San Pedro. The first week, the family is visited by friends and family. For the next 1-2 months, close family members and friends take turns bringing food, going for walks, talking with, and supporting the family. The family is visited by these relatives and friends at least 3 times a day! There is a community sense of duty and obligation after a loved one dies. No one is left alone or has to grieve on their own. Sometimes, tragedies happen. As my Spanish teacher says, "es la vida". I get the sense that the people of San Pedro feel reassured knowing that when it is their turn to go, their family will be comforted in the same loving way.
The access to medical care in San Pedro is challenging. Most Maya women deliver in their own home, with the help of their mother and sisters. Family is the core principle in this community. Grandparents, siblings, and cousins, all live close by. Our experience has been that mealtimes are spent together as a family. Our host family’s abeula (grandma) comes over for dinner most nights. She lives about 50 meters away. Often the family's 4 year old niece can be found in their kitchen or playing with their kitten.
Last week our school visited some families in the community. We brought food and ingredients for cooking. Some of the tuition money from the Coopertiva Spanish School goes to helping these families in need. Our teacher translated for us as they only spoke in Mayan; if it were not for these donations, their family would not be able to afford to eat.
We are thoroughly enjoying our time in San Pedro, and the more we learn about the community here, the more we appreciate its value.