At Home: A Day in a Tzotzil Life

A day in the life of a cacao producer Tzotzil family in the region of Tabasco.

By MUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Jacqueline Dersjant

The indigenous (Mayan) Zoque and Tzotzil people have been growing and using cacao for thousands of years in sustainable ways and my stay with them showed me a bit of their life - the people behind sustainable cacao.

Hiking (2018-04-11) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Hiking

9:15 a.m.

The hike through the hills is long, but stops along the way provide opportunities for a laugh and a story.

Jose Luis (2018-04-11) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Jose Luis

10:09 a.m.
Bean leaves and maize stalks frame the image of a producer and his milpa.

Oropendola Montezuma (2018-04-13) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Oropendola Montezuma

These are the most interesting birds I have ever seen. The sound they make is a prequel of the bird tipping down as if they fall, but they stand on the branch. And they just get up again and after a while they fall again.

This passerine bird, better known as songbird, lives in the tropical regions of America, from Southern Mexico to Panama. They are associated with clearing edges in rainforests and tree plantations with fruits such as banana, mamey, and cacao.

Pollo criollo (2018-04-09) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Pollo criollo

10:41 a.m.
The chicken broth from Tabasco is a culinary delicatessen typical of the region. The ingredients make for a unique recipe. Spices such as black pepper, clove, oregano, and a pinch of salt and cumin give it an alluring smell for whoever consumes it.

Cerro Blanco Quinta Seccion (2018-04-09) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Cerro Blanco, Quinta Sección

That's were men go each morning to their fields - through those winding hills.

They go on foot for hours. The hills are too steep for their horses.

Cacao pods (2018-04-14) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Cacao pods

1:06 p.m.
The "quebradero" is the spot where farmers break the pods to take out the juicy beans. After a while, the pod casks will become compost to be dispersed back into the cacao orchard.

Quality time for kids (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Quality Time for Kids

3:47 p.m.
The kids, like their parents, like to just hang around together and talk.

Water (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Water

3:55 p.m.
Water was a reappearing theme on my walks through the community, from the daily duties of handwashing clothes, the children cooling down in the river, to the water purification and distribution center. Water comes straight from the source, from the mountain.

Time to relax (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Time to relax

4:05 p.m.
Everyone in the family has their role. There is laundry to be done, chickens to be plucked, cacao pods to be cut open, but there is also time to relax together in the hammocks.

Skills (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Skills

Don Jose is skilled in many ways. It's easy to see that he is a skilled farmer and a skilled orator, always eager to tell a story about cacao farming and the Tzotzil community.

Here, we can see him helping his granddaughter build a scale made of old plastic bottles, a school project she was working on.

Story of hope (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Story of Hope

4:49 p.m.
If everyday items were to tell the story of the village of Cerro Blanco, I'd hope the hammock to be one of those items.

Atole (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Atole

8:00 p.m.
Just home from work - sharing an energy packed drink called atole with the new generation, passing down flavor and tradition of consuming their own production.

Quality Time (Friday) (2018-04-08) by Jacqueline DersjantMUCHO-Museo del Chocolate

Quality Time

8:55 p.m.
Family time with great story tellers. After the evening meal, some family dropped by to be together, taking turns to talk about their day.

Credits: Story

Story and photographs: Jacqueline Dersjant
A big thank you to Hermance van Dijk, Ilvy Njiokiktjie, Nancy Borowick, Ryan Christopher Jones, Tasneem Asultan, MUCHO Chocolate Museum, Ana Rita García Lascurain for your support.
Thanks to Don Jose and Maria Susana, the great family that welcomed me in their home.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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