Webmasters Note: One of our members, Connie Fudge, and her husband have moved to Guatemala. Connie will be posting a monthly blog about her adventures. Below is the part one of a multiple part series.
If you’d asked me 26 years ago if I thought I’d ever find myself living in a foreign country, I’d have said “I don’t think so!” If you’d asked me if I thought I’d live in Central America in a small, semi-remote village and be one of a very few English-speakers, I’d have laughed in your face and said “Yeah! Riiiiight!!!
But, here I am in San Rafael de Las Flores, Guatemala, desperately trying to learn Spanish! Sometimes our wildest dreams aren’t wild enough! Three years ago I was living in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada and I thought that was a challenge! At least they spoke the same language there…kind of.
If you don’t know me, you don’t know that my husband, Tom, is a Mining Engineer. His career has taken us to a few interesting places over the course of our marriage. He is a wonderful man. I love him. I go wither he goest. When the opportunity came last fall to take a job with a mining company in Guatemala, we knew that we were being called there and so he began the journey in October. I finally came down this February after finishing up Santa Fe Enchantment (2012 National Seminar) and getting through the holidays.
I knew before I ever got here that I wanted to get my hands on Guatemalan textiles. In addition to being a needlework hoarder, I’m an openly practicing fabric-aholoic. I quilt and I thought it would be great fun to explore the idea of making quilts from the colorful, hand woven fabrics of this country. At least, that would be my excuse for justifying the multiple purchases of the stuff. Little did I know that I was going to take a slightly different path with my obsession as we began to settle in and explore this fascinating “tierra de colores” (land of colors).
Originally, Guatemala was the realm of the Mayan civilization. In 1523, when the Spanish arrived to conquer the place, the Mayan’s reign was already on the downslide, going the way of many a great civilization. It did not take much for the Spanish to move in and take over. Over the next 300 years, the land filled with Spanish and other European settlers. In 1821, Guatemala was released from the hold of España and became independent. Of course, that just meant that they would then become part of the Mexican Empire for a short time and a federation of Central American “states” for a while after that.
From the mid-19th century to the mid-1980s, the country “passed through a series of dictatorships, insurgencies, coups, and stretches of military rule with only occasional periods of representative government.”1 A 36 year internal conflict, which began in the early 1960s, was an incredibly unstable and turbulent time. During a particularly bloody year (1982-1983) the lives of an estimated 200,000 unarmed, indigenous civilians were lost.
In the early 1990s, a more democractic way of governing shakily began moving forward to the present day. Guatemala is far from stable and the “rule of law” is often considered relative. Today, the culture is a mixture of ancient Mayan, indigenous peoples (who have not always been treated well), decendents of Europeans and – especially in the last 50+ years – the rest of the world. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until recent years that Guatemala has been found to contain some rich mineral resources which brings us to why the Fudges are here!