How lucky I am to work with the most amazing Mayan women every day? Because I work in the ProAtitlán office in Panajachel, Guatemala, I participate in different work groups with Kaqchikel and Tz’utujil Mayan women.

These are the two main ethnic groups present in the area, and because we work promoting recycling in different municipalities of the Lake, there are native speakers of both languages in the team.

Two of my closest friends are Olga and Bárbara.

Olga is an economist elaborating the Compost Market Research Plan for the Municipalities. She is also the mother of beautiful two years old Luna. She spent her youth studying in Catholic boarding schools before going to University. She has been to Japan on a scholarship, and she has worked in many cooperative projects involving women. She is not only bright, but has the best personality, good sense of humor, and a loving family. We conducted waste characterization studies together, and even the difficult task was made fun in her company. Last Monday, I visited the Sololá market with her. Then, we cooked all the new ingredients in her house with Isabel, her house helper. The result was amazing. They even teach me to prepare the famous corn tamales with the paste mixed with the green leaves of the chipilín plant.

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Olga buying vegetables in the Sololá market

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The result of our cooking with Olga

Bárbara is a young tourism student from Santiago Atitlán. She speaks Spanish, Kaqchikel, Tz’utujil perfectly, and some Quiché, French and English. She is learning all the birds’ names from her Bird watching course in English too! We are promoting recycling in her assigned areas together. We visited schools, we organized a campaign with schools to clean the local market, we did a workshop of crafts from recycled materials for the female neighbors and we even appeared in a TV show! Next weekend I will participate in her bird watching course in San Lucas Tolimán. Thanks for the invitation!

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Barbara from Santiago Atitlán

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Doing activities with Barbara in Panajachel: Inauguration of a park made with recycled materials

I am also meeting with strong women working on innovative projects for other cooperatives or companies. An example is Carmela, from Vision Maya, that started cultivating oyster mushrooms 10 years ago as a way of improving her livelihood. I wanted to visit her because I love the way they are giving a value to the corn cobs into a substrate to grow the delicious mushrooms. Now, she is coordinating another fifteen women that have each a greenhouse of their own. Then, they sell it all together in her house. They are selling 200 pounds a week! And to complete the cycle, the organic waste remaining is used to produce compost for the corn fields.

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Carmela growing mushrooms in San Andrés Semetabaj

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Oyster mushrooms

In three months I feel already part of the team and the community, let’s see what the remaining nine months will bring and what new friendships I will develop with the Guatemalan ixoqi.