Guatemala Journey Among the Ixil Maya

Susanna Badgley Place. Susanna Badgley Place, $24.95 paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-9884876-0-4
Place effectively limns the culture and history of the Ixil Maya, a people whose homeland, half the size of Rhode Island, lies in a remote, mountainous section of northern Guatemala. She amply details their ancient importance in Mayan civilization, the violence of Spanish colonialism, and the tragic decades of civil war from 1960 to 1996. Even after the Peace Accords of 1996, Ixil culture remains largely unappreciated even within Guatemala. Place's review of history reflects her conviction that travelers, possibly in contrast to tourists, find enduring rewards from learning, respecting, and sharing what matters most to the local people. She forcefully argues the importance of sustaining the endangered traditional Ixil culture and language, while avoiding quaint antiquarianism. Her photographs and insights from repeat visits provide practical tips on exploring the little-known region. Intrepid, independent-minded travelers will find her descriptions alluring; her work itself provides a stimulating glimpse of an alternative to well-worn destinations. Anyone tempted by the undiscovered riches of the road less taken will be intrigued by Place's passionate call to assist the Ixil people in developing a sustainable future and preserving their traditions.
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013
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