It is commonly thought that smaller places are also smaller in experiences, or have little to offer to visitors. I must admit that I had a wrong idea about Xpujil, its people and the way they live; I really forgot that this place is even older than my home town, yet wiser in many ways. This is a place with plenty to discover, but the lessons come only for those ready to understand its subtle language of signs, sounds and silences. The visitor should look at every aspect of the place that would normally be considered trivial, irrelevant or even unimportant.
One example is the symbolic value that public spaces have here. Even if private property is not despised, common property has the same importance because it enriches everybody. Common property is not regarded as “property of no one”, but as property of everyone alike, meaning that all have the same right to use and benefit from it. All care for the parks, public services and offices, and the municipal auditorium the same way they care for their own houses or farms. This idea comes from a tradition regarding the care and use of the oldest and richest property: the forest. The forest, up to these days, remains the way of living for most of the inhabitants in the region, as well as the source of identity of the town.
For these kids, it seems just normal to have a small depiction of ancient ruins in the playground. Just as normal as the trees and the benches any park has.
The isense of a community can also be found in the ruins found all around the place. These ruins are part of the modern landscape, peeking through the rooftops and tall trees. Nowadays, people not always regard itself as Mayan, and I do acknowledge how their lives resemble more the ordinary life on any modern society. Nevertheless, the weight of the past can be felt. One can’t visit about places like Xpujil without noticing the regular use of Mayan language, written and spoken, and references to pre-hispanic names, like streets named Balamkú, Balakbal, Xmultún, Halaltún, Silvituc.
Places like these require, above anything else, time: the visitor may not be aware of the richness hidden underneath the earth and trees, and more recently underneath the expanding houses. I feel one week has not been enough, yet I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed or learned a lot in this far away land on Mexico.