'Life is about wandering down an unknown path and smiling when you realize where you have wandered.' This past week Kamille (my sitemate), her friend Ty, and I did just that. Okay, we knew our destination, but not what we were getting ourselves into. We headed through the tea fields (head lamps and all) down to the house of Alberto, the current President on the Co-op. Having been invited to a gathering it could have been assumed we would all greet each other, quickly eat caldo, and be on our merry way. As Drake would say, 'never pay attention to the rumors and what they assume.' The large wooden home was filled with excited people dressed in clothing ranging from traditional traje to more modern attire, an abundance of food/tortillas and drinks, colorful decorations and a long table up front. On top of the table lay a number of masks, ranging from a tiger to deer.
Following a number of speeches, a large meal (despite insisting we were thankful, but had already eaten... always come to eat!) and a performance on the marimba the b'oj was served. B'oj is a fermented sugar-cane drink, which logically varies in strength depending on the period of fermentation. Normally a conservative community, the b'oj was flowing, the music was playing, and even cigarettes were smoked as part of the ceremony. We then all proceeded out to the front of the beneficio, miramba and all, where the men took part in the dance of the deer. This took place directly next to the new gravel road funded by Fedecovera (an independent organization working with 36 cooperatives throughout the Verapaces), who were likewise in attendance at the event. Coming up on the corn harvesting season, the dance was symbolic of the correlation and harmony between man and nature. Around midnight, following nearly two hours of dancing, the three of us decided to call it a night. The music continued on well into the night, but this was merely a practice round for the following day's full-costume event at the Fedecovera office in Coban. The actual production was vibrant and colorful, but there was undoubtedly a little extra excitement (a little B'oj in the step of the dancers if you will) that Wednesday night we decided to venture out.
Masks on the center table.
The pre-baile feast.
Kamille, Ty and I outside of Alberto's house.
Baile de Venados @ Fedcovera Office