Tropical Storm Agatha in Pampojilá

Here are photos of the coffee harvest in finca Pampojilá, San Lucas Tolimán, Sololá prior to its devastation May 29th, 2010 at the hands of Tropical Storm Agatha mixed with photos taken the day after the disaster and some a week or so later. Tumbling boulders crushed the finca´s elegant public wash basin (pila). Likewise, mud and rocks buried Pampojilá´s church dedicated to St.Joseph (San José) They  also destroyed most of the few houses spared by Hurricane Stan in 2005. Mud-flows buried one old couple alive, as they slept embracing. I watched in horror the day after the disaster as men removed their bodies.

The Maya are reilient, however, and smile through their tears. I have therefore set the photos in a slide show to Charlie Chaplin´s tune Smile, written for his classic movie Modern Times. The bittersweet lyric speaks to the lives of the workers in the cafetal.

My photos of the coffee harvest  in Pampojilá can never be reproduced. Agatha scarred Pampojilá´s face for the long-term. The torment destroyed the house of the original owner, Manuel Díaz. Agatha killed countless coffee trees as well. Therefore, morose from his losses, Manuel´s great-grandson Oscar Dìaz sold the finca to Pantaleón, a huge sugar processing plant. Work has become more regimented.. As such, small children may no longer accompany their mothers to the harvest. Furthermore, the inter-personal relationships which united the workers have been lost forever.