February 27th, 2009
The region of Ixil is situated in the department of Quiche in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes in the Altiplano Occidental of Guatemala. It includes the municipals of Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzal. This region was most affected areas during the Guatemalan civil war, especially in the 1980s. The families now live in a secure environment far away from the big cities and show great friendship and hospitality to people that visit.
The community of Ixil is famous for its characteristic artesania particularly its textiles of mosaics including the figures of the local community. The blouses of the women (huipiles) are known for their robust colors and geometric shapes. The Ixil women have gained fame of weaving the best work in Guatemala. The harmony in the combination of the blouses with obscure red and blue tied in their hair are adorned with other multicolored wool.
The town of Nebaj is the entrance to the region of Ixil. It is situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. Among other things, it is known for its conservative precious white houses of adobe representing the indigenous culture prominent in all of the region of Ixil. In many communities, this same architecture is incorporated with adobe and wood.
After 2.5 kilometers and 370 meters of walking straight up, you arrive in Acul. Acul is the first new development of the area Ixil. Reconstructed in 1983 withthe final movements of the civil war, you can still see streets and houses that show a dark sideof history. Outside of town is the Finca of Mil Amores or the Finca San Antonio where a Swiss family has moved in and makes the most delicious cheese in Guatemala. In the center of town, you encounter a small path and walk 2.6 kilometers west through Xexuxcap and another 3.2 kilometers west to Xexocom.
Xexocom is 2,220 meters above sea level. In the first part of the 20th century, Two Quiche families came from Chuatuj in search for water and decided to live in the valley of Xoxocom. Before their arrival to Xexocom, Marta Ramundo was the only person to live in the valley. After the middle of the 20th century, the families grew, and at the end of the seventies, 15 families lived in Xexocom.
In 1980 when the war started in this region, Xexocom was converted into a refuge for other communities such as Acul and Xoxuxcap, Tu Uchuch, and Paraxtut.
This community is known for its inhabitants such as Xe’ Juyup (the foot of the mountain). There are six families now living in the town from the first founders.
The first night of camping, we were about 3,200 meters above sea level we ascended 872 meters from Xexocom (3.5km) on a goat trail. It was around 0 decrees Celsius, but the panoramic view of the Ixiles villages below was beautiful. We camped in a cloud forest covered with pine trees about 7 km from Chuatuj. Luckily we had plenty of fire wood for the night, and sunrise between the clouds was amazing.
Chuatju is a small town once you reach the lookout (mirador) from Xexocom. It consists of approximately 13 families that mainly grow potatoes and raise pigs and sheep. The houses are constructed of stone and wood with tin roofs. After about 3.5 kilometers through a beautiful walk through the altiplano, you reach Chortiz.
Chortiz is a small indigenous town 3,200 meters above sea level. It is a town where they only speak Kiche. Aproximately 43 families live in the community where , like Chuatuj, they are dedicated to cultivating potatoes and raising sheep. There are not many trees in this area, and some say it looks like the passage to the moon.
After Chortiz you descend into the valley passing across a bridge to where you finally reach somewhat of civilization (Spanish speaking), and you pass through Canton Primera, El Pericon and San Nicolas. From San Nicolas we took a bus to La Ventosa and slept there with a local family.
From Ventosa we walked from La Torre into the valley to Todos Santos. The valley was a beautiful walk through the national forest along the mountain and along the valley.
Categories: Guatemala | Tags: Nebaj, Todos Santos, Acul, Xexocom, Chuatuj, Chortiz, Canton Primera, El Pericon, Xelam, San Nicolas, La Capellania, La Ventosa, Ixil, Quiche, Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Altiplano Occidental de Guatemala