POR NATHALIA HERNÁNDEZ OCHOA, translated to Maya Kaqchikel by the poet and Baldomero Cúma Chávez
From the poet: At the moment COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in early April 2020, I was conducting research in Guatemala, living in San Pedro el Alto, traveling to Antigua, Santa María de Jesús, and San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Public transportation stopped, my research agenda was canceled, and I had to start taking my Kaqchikel classes online. The university urged us to return to the United States as soon as possible. But, at the time, I felt safer in Guatemala and decided to stay until June. This poem alludes to the sense of community and support I felt in Guatemala amid the uncertainty. The sentiment of the poem is to trust the ancestral knowledges that live within us, the knowledges we inherit and the ones we gain throughout life. I wanted to write it in Kaqchikel because that was a way for me to honor the richness of ancestral knowledge I was exposed to while conducting research in Guatemala. For that and more, I am forever thankful to Iximulew (Guatemala), its spirit, people, and places.
Nathalia Hernández Ochoa is a doctoral candidate at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS). She is a first-generation scholar from El Salvador with a long history of family migrations, which is why she identifies with all Mesoamerican territories. As a storyteller, she seeks possibilities for joy and healing through women’s voices and wisdoms. She has been learning the Maya Kaqchikel language as a FLAS awardee since 2018 with her tutor, Baldomero Cúma Chávez, aka Kawoq, a language instructor, spiritual guide, and poet/writer.