Todos Santos - Guatemalan Tibet

todos santos01Todos Santos Cuchumatán is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Huehuetenango. It is situated in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes at an elevation of 2,500 m (about 8,000 ft). The municipality covers an area of approximately 269 km2 and is formed by the town of Todos Santos Cuchumatán, 6 villages, and 69 smaller rural communities, called caserios, parajes, and cantones. Cuchumateca valley produces crops like potatoes, broccoli, and large-scale cultivation of coffee on the lower mountain slopes of the municipality.

The population of Todos Santos is predominantly indigenous, of Mayan descent, most of whom still speak the Mayan language of Mam. The town is one of few places in Guatemala where indigenous men still wear their traditional clothing, along with the women.

An annual festival is celebrated on October 31st - November 2nd and is centered on All Saint’s Day on November 1st (“Todos Santos” translates to “all saints” in English). Festivities include traditional dances, marimba music, and the famous horse races. The horse races are often the scene of mayhem and bloodshed due to the riders’ penchant to drink alcohol for days leading up to the races even though the mayor banned the selling of hard alcohol in May of 2008.

Todos Santos Cuchumatán can be reached from Huehuetenango with asphalted road. Market day is on Sunday.

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