Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa
and anyone else who would like to be here
The Maya people live in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. They speak Spanish and also their own Mayan languages. Today some Mayan people live in big cities. Others live in small villages in the jungle. We visited some of the cities and villages where the Mayan people live. Some of the Mayans wear beautiful special dresses. Some dress just like Americans. They like to watch TV and play soccer. The children go to school near their homes.
In a Maya village that we visited, we met some children and mothers. The people there are poor. Here they are in front of a house with a palm-tree roof. It is never very cold because they live in the tropics, but they would like to have a house with concrete walls and a more solid roof. This family is building a better house next door, and soon they will move into it.
One little girl and her mother were showing us how they make tortillas. They were forming the dough with their hands, and then cooking the tortillas on an open fire. Their kitchen was out of doors behind the house.
Some other children were playing in back of the house.
Hundreds of years ago, before Europeans ever came to their country, the Maya people built huge cities. They cleared the trees away and made big buildings out of white stone. They carved beautiful pictures and writing on the walls of the city, and they also wrote books about their history. Then something happened (no one is sure exactly what), and the people moved away from the big Mayan cities. The jungle trees and vines grew back over the beautiful white buildings.
The first Europeans to arrive in the Maya's country were Spanish people who were looking for gold. The Mayans didn't have any gold, so the Spaniards didn't do much there. The big white cities stayed under the jungle, and the Mayans continued to live in villages and to cultivate their small farms. After a long time, people became very interested in the big cities in the jungle, and they cleared the trees away and put the stones back together. We also visited two of these ancient cities, which are very beautiful. Here is a famous building from hundreds of years ago:
In the city called Chichen Itza, we saw many Maya people. They come into the park through the jungle every day and many of them sell things that they make or that they get from other villages in Mexico. We saw woodcarvings, embroidered blouses, pottery, and other things. Some children come into Chichen Itza with their parents or grandparents.