Acul is a stunning peaceful valley in the Ixil triangle that reminded me of Switzerland. It was paradise. That is why it was hard to process that Acul was used as an internment camp during the civil war and genocide of the Maya Ixil people in the 1980s. In 2013 for the first time ever, a head of state in Guatemala was found guilty in court of genocide. Acul was the first camp where the Mayan villagers were forced to move from their villages, this was done to separate them from the guerrilla fighters in the mountains. You moved or you died.
We met a ton of Peace Corps volunteers here and the Italian version of the Peace Corps, who told us about the suffering of these people and how they were trying to make their lives better. The Peace Corps are focusing on sustainable ways for the people to cook, education and job training. They told us if you ask anyone over the age of thirty about the war, they will have devastating stories to tell. One day I hope to go back to this area when I am older and volunteer. So much beauty and so much suffering. I am glad things are getting better and I hope the victims get some small form of justice.
This city is really just a jumping off point for hikes and adventure travel in the region. Ask around and you will be able to find guides for most of the trails and most of the guides are former guerrilla fighters who used the trails to evade the army. Great stories!
Hitchhiking Mayan women
And my last favorite story of the Ixil triangle is all the women who flagged us down for rides. The collectivos in this area are few and far in between. Finding a ride is not easy. We don’t have any back seats, we have and ARB fridge and a metal storage container, however, this did not stop them from sardining themselves into our cab. Many of them spoke very little Spanish so we could barely converse. But we had fun laughing together, watching them marvel at our GPS and listening to them talk in their native language. One of the days we dropped two girls off directly in front of their hut in the middle of nowhere, and a startled Peace Corp volunteer who was working with a group of children stared at the rig and the girls tumbling out in total surprise. I saw his mouth form the words California???? (from our license plate). It was priceless.