Unmasking the Maya

Maya Today (Continued)

  Maya watch TV Cultural exchange between Mexico and North America continues, but in a new way: through television, movies, and through the migration of one million Maya workers to what is now the United States.
  First Travelers

The first Maya travelers to describe our country -- Antzelmo Péres and Romin (“Ro-meen”) Teratol -- journeyed to the Southwest and Washington, D.C. during the 1960s, to work on The Great Tzotzil Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantán with Dr. Robert M. Laughlin of the Smithsonian Institution.


  Antzelmo in Hat

“Some kids were playing in the street. When they saw us they ran off screaming. They probably thought we were bad, because our clothes were different. ‘Where could they be from, looking like that?’ they probably said to themselves. People wanted to chat but what could we do? We didn’t understand the language.”
--Antzelmo Péres


  Romin in Hat

“I had brought fifty pesos to buy things. When I saw the change for my money there were only $4.00. We didn’t know the money of the white gents was different, since we are just dumb Indians. I had thought I would use my money to supplement the food for my stomach. But how could I eat since it turned into $4.00? My money was used up on soft drinks. It never reached the place where I was going. It just shrivelled up on the way.”
--Romin Teratol


  Both Travelers in Hats

“We sat down in a restaurant to wait for our meals. The woman handed us a menu to find out what kind of food we wanted. But it was all in English. We simply stood up. ‘Never mind, we won’t eat,’ we said to ourselves, because it was already time for work.”
--Romin Teratol


  Smithsonian Towers

“The office where we worked was on the third floor. There were steps on each of the floors. We were pulled up, because the steps ran by means of a motor or electricity or something. We were pulled up. And we came down just the same way. We came straight down, standing up.”
--Romin Teratol



“In Washington, machines do everything. Machines scoop up the garbage and the leaves that drop from the trees. As for the buildings, the people don’t work much with their hands. They work with machines. When they tear down old buildings, they just knock them down with a great pear-shaped metal ball. It doesn’t look like work at all. It’s blacks who mostly work by hand. The gringos work in offices. The blacks are their laborers. They build buildings, they build bridges, they build everything. That’s their work, because they don’t let them study much the way they themselves do. The blacks just get to be school teachers, they get roadwork and other low jobs. That’s the only kind of job they get.” --Romin Teratol


“We couldn’t tell where we were. We couldn’t tell where the sun had risen. We didn’t know which direction our home was.”
--Antzelmo Péres

    “If I told people at home what I saw, who would believe me?”
--Romin Teratol
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