Sustainability prospects for Santa Elena familes

I have been pondering and feeling quite guilty about blogging lately. Having gone over a month without the camera sort of changed me. I am less obsessed with having it with me, and taking every opportunity to photo document things.

I was on a road trip the other day to a pueblo near Uxmal called Santa Elena. I was with friends visiting a man, Abel and his family. They have a pretty amazing family compound - Abel and his immediate family have the largest house as you enter the compound, then there is a common kitchen house where they still cook over a fire using the traditional 3 stones to hold pots, comal, etc. There is a name for this and I really must find out what is is, and then each family member has their own separate house. Abels house has 2 large rooms, the other houses were all one large room. Furniture was minimal, but hammocks hung all around. The family has electricity to power refrigerators and tv's. There were several pens for turkeys, and chickens, there were 5 pigs tethered to trees or sticks. There were dogs and puppies, and hens and chicks everywhere.

I should have been taking more pictures

This extended family unit is quite self sufficient as far as their food needs are concerned. The houses were all in the traditional Maya style, called nah. They are constructed of long straight trees stuck in the ground then coated with a mixture of mud, straw, and whatever else is required that makes it rock hard and solid. The high peaked thatched roofs, and two doors across from each other provide excellent ventilation and a cool comfortable interior. Hard packed dirt floors were being swept as we arrived.

This is one of the few pictures I took, and will need to print it
to take to Abel and family when we next visit.

It's always amazing to me how the maya women can keep their huipiles so spotlessly clean and brilliant white working all day as they do around that rich red soil.

Everyone stopped what they were doing when we arrived and came to participate or watch as we talked with Abel and wife. Friend Joanna (in the green shirt) is trying to help this family set up a self-sustainable source of income for themselves and others within the community. The women do beautiful embroidery, but need help with the finishing details; and with marketing and sales. The men have access to an incredibly diverse outdoor arena; ruins abound, the old sac'be's or maya roads are still in evidence.

Hiking, biking trails, and eco-tourism is a very real possibility. One of our projects was to walk/hike a few of the trails with an eye towards potential and possibility. Biking, hiking, and birding were our focus today. Another excellent option will be plant identification and historic or traditional plant uses.

The trails we took show excellent potential; interesting topography, varying in difficulty but not so well groomed or manicured as to provide no interest. They do need some work as the forest tends to creep in. Especially if a more European market is tapped as the Mayans that tend to use these trails are a bit shorter than we extranjeros.

an old water storage with top laid to the left

It will be interesting to watch this project and see how it progresses.