End of the Year 2018

NEWSLETTER No. 6

 

Almost there… the end of the year 2018. Therefore, here we go with the sum-up of our whereabouts in the best Gertrude Duby style: a newsletter.

 

But, before, we have to reveal a couple of wishes we asked Santa Claus for on the eve of Christmas:

  • More active members
  • A fund raising officer
  • A set of new activities attractive to the public
  • An interactive and more responsive social network
  • Funds to continue contributing to Trudi’s plant nursery in Nahá

 

We’ll keep our fingers crossed for our wishes to come true!

 

So without more ado, here we go.

 

To the assistance of victims of the 2017 earthquake in Chiapas: From the beginning to late summer 2018 we were coordinating assistance to the victims of the terrible earthquake that hit Chiapas and other parts of Mexico. As you may recall, Na Bolom.ch took the decision to donate CHF600 to assist people in need in the state where the epicenter of the earthquake on September 7th 2017 left thousands of people homeless.

 

The Na Bolom.ch and AMEX-VAUD-NEUCHATEL donation was channelled through Instituto Víctor María Flores, a formal organization in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and we were present to select where, how, and when to provide with indispensable help. We witnessed the penury and sadness of many people and families who lost their humble belongings, but we saw also their happiness and gratitude when they got cement, corrugated steel, blankets, tents, stoves, and cloths among other deliveries we brought them.

 

Swiss students trip to the Lacandon rainforest: During the summer we organised for Swiss students Najeli Amacker and Clara Palut a trip to the Lacandon rainforest to undertake research for their bachelor degree thesis. We had a base in the village of Nahá, where chamán Chan Kin Viejo García in the years 1950s invited Trudi to set up her camp. 

 

During our six days we had excursions both in Nahá and neighbouring Metzabok, both protected nature reserves, by boat on the lakes, hiking on the old Maya’ sites, and visiting lacandon families. We swam in Metzabok’s lake where by chance we admired the long carvings of snakes on the rocks normally submerged in the water, took walks to spot birds and, among other activities, attended in Nahá the end of the educational program for children aged 5-10 to familiarised them with creatures of the forest such as snakes, iguanas, bats and other kinds and we had an incredible conversation with painter Kayum Maax, who told us stories of the Mayan universe.

 

We had a very particular moment while paying our respects at the tombs of the ecologist Gertrude Duby and archaeologist Frans Blom at the sacred cemetery of Naha. This is where their remains were placed in 2010 and is one of those places on earth that move our spirits and memories to a full. We told stories about their lives, placed candles for them and for chamán Chan Kin Viejo García, and carefully walked among the various other tombs placed at the foot of beautiful ceibas, mahoganies and rubber trees.

 

Later we played with children, talked to women including Ms Adriana García Cruz, the first woman lacandon with a university degree! Her training in Alternative Tourism she put it to excellent use when she opted for opening a restaurant in Nahá – instead of leaving her village of origin like so many others.

 

Top of the experience was to participate in the prayers of Chamán don Antonio Martínez García, who took us to his Casa de Dioses (Temple of the Gods) where he held a sacred ceremony for us; narrated some parts of his life and how his father and father in law before him, were the ones who spotted he had the gift to communicate with the Mayan gods, and shared his sorrow that nowadays few people believe in the old prayers. Finally, he prayed for us to be happy, healthy and wealthy. It was a morning of incredible beauty.

 

We are sure that the experience both Najeli and Clara had in the rainforest will be impressive for their fellow students in Geneva.

 

Formal agreement to create Trudi’s Plant Nursery in Nahá: In August, the authorities of Nahá, led by the Commissioner Bor Martínez García with Secretary Kayum Maax García and Tresurer Bor José Solórzano, signed the agreement with Na Bolom.ch to constitute a committee to create and administer a plant nursery as an homage to Gertrude “Trudi” Duby and to honour her work as the first ecologist in the Americas. Representing us, Kyra Núñez signed the agreement and two other members of our association as witnesses.

 

Very soon, the wish long hold from Na Bolom.ch since its creation, to open a plant nursery in Nahá was to be a reality. In fact, by early October the beginning of the implementation of the agreement was done and lacandons are now fully engaged in planting and seeding palm xate to be used for local purposes and for selling to flower shops. The aim is to provide work for the villagers and to become a sustainable project.

 

Na Bolom.ch fifth anniversary: The Swiss Cultural Association was created in Bern, on June 7, 2013 and its inaugural ceremony took place on September 13th at the Swiss capital. We celebrated our fifth anniversary on October 1st, in Geneva, with an event that took place in Café-Gallery Viverra, holding a photo exhibit by Mexican Gerardo Garciacano Hinojosa titled “Lacandons facing globalisation”. With some 20 images, the photographer showed the present day life of the lacandons living in Nahá and Metzabok in the heart of the rainforest in Chiapas.

 

Looking at the photographs, the more than 30 members who attended our festivity reacted to the behaviour of the villagers in front of the modern communications such as television, cell phones, four wheel drive pick-ups, the influence of the English language in brands for t-shirts and much more.

 

The five candles in the tasty cake were joyfully blown by Executive Committee members Nuria, María Francisca, Jacqueline y Kyra; absent were Ivonne and Jorge.

 

We are currently 159 members. You might wish to share information on Na Bolom.ch and invite your family and friends to become a member. They can do so sending an email to: secretaria@nabolom.ch

 

The first celebration in 2014 took place in Wimmis en 2014. The second in 2015 was quite original with parties in Geneva, Bern, Malmo, Perth, New York, Washington and Chiapas. The third in 2016 was in Niederlenz, invited by the directors of the Gartenbauschule (the very school where Trudi studied and got her degree as a horticulturist) where we did something singular and planted a Tiluil tree to remember the ocasion. The fourth anniversary took place in Bern during the event “Viva México”.

 

In Memoriam de Trudi, an Offering: For November 1, the Mexican tradition of Altar de Muertos (Offering for the death) organised by Na Bolom.ch and the Asociación de Mexicanos en Ginebra y Amigos de México -AMEGI- was dedicated to the memory of Gertrude Duby Blom on the 25th anniversary of her death. The event took place at the hall of the Petit Saconnex’s retirement home as an initiative by Mr. Manuel Carrillo, the dean of the Mexicans residents in Geneva.

 

According to our tradition, interestingly narrated by Mr Carrillo in his book “Fiestas y Tradiciones Mexicanas” the photograph of Trudi was placed at the centre of the offering; children and adults participating were in turns placing around the altar flowers, breads, candles, sugar made skeletons some other goodies.

 

Trudi’s 25th anniversary of her demise: December 23rd marked the 25th anniversary of Gertrude Duby Blom’s demise. For the occasion Na Bolom.ch organised quite an interesting evening on December 13th in Geneva, attended by more than 20 members very interested on her life and deeds.

 

With this event we closed a circle of activities related to the Lacandon people in Nahá which included the agreement and later the opening of the Trudi’s Plant Nursery in Nahá, and the photo exhibit “Lacandons facing globalisation”.

 

Having spent time in Nahá with Spanish Anthropologists PhD María-José Pastor-Alfonso and PhD Pilar Espero-Molinero from the University of Alicante, who enriched our stay and understanding of the Lacandon people, Dra. Pastor-Alfonso, head of the Contemporary Humanities Department was kind to accept our invitation to be the key-speaker at the commemorative event to remember the ecological legacy and the respect of Gertrude Duby for the original peoples such as the lacandon.

 

During this event we were fortunate enough to get the interesting perspective from the young and the experience. The first part came from Najeli Amacker, a young student from Geneva who visited Nahá in August; she gave us a very fresh overview of her experience. Her affirmative conclusion: “Yes, I am looking forward to go back” is enough to understand that she was happy and that her thesis recently defended for her bachelor degree was a success. It was enchanting.

 

The experienced view came from Dra. Pastor-Alfonso who is rich in more than 11 years concurring to Nahá to research in various aspects of the life of the community. She gave us a full lecture on the maya lacandon from its origins until their present day life affected by the influx of tourism. Pastor-Alfonso’s conference “The life of the lacandon people of Nahá and their resilience to the crisis of deforestation and land invasion” was outstanding.

 

At last but not less impressive was the video documentary on the sacred religious ceremony at House of Gods, by don Antonio Martínez García.

 

Social Network: Little by little we are trying hard, very hard to up-date, feed and maintain in activity our social network. You could have seen the new format and articles in the web page; we post now and then items in our Facebook and Tweet… sometimes.

 

The current team in charge of Na Bolom.ch is not only quite busy with personal/professional work but we are presently living in three continents, which poses challenges to everything we do or want to achieve, and our server is miles away from home!

 

That’s why we insist in our calling for active members who can help us to give life to our public profile. Anyone interested please contact: communications@nabolom.ch

 

Do you have something to share with our public regarding ecology, archaeology, ethnology, souvenirs from your trips to Chiapas, suggestions for activities or just to become a member? By any chance you met Trudi at one point of your life? Don’t wait, contact: secretaria@nabolom.ch

 

News from Mexico: We gladly report some changes in the structure of Na Bolom A.C. where a couple of months ago, Ms Patricia López Sánchez took over as Director General. You may recall she was Director of the Museum; having done an active work that put the museum of the Casa del Jaguar again as a top touristic spot in San Cristóbal de las Casas, she left to fulfil an academic field early January but now we have her back.

 

Ms Lucía Armendáriz Guerra succeded Ms López Sánchez as Cultural Activities Director.

 

We were present in the 2018 General and Extraordinary General Assembly of Na Bolom A.C. in April and one more Extraordinary in August. On those three occasions we voted for new members to the Patronato and ratified the new posts at the managerial level of the institution.

 

We were also concerned by the failing health of our friend and Honorary Member, doña Beatriz Mijangos Zenteno. We gladly report that she is in full recovery. We send to her our very best wishes for a healthier 2019, a year that we wish to bring her, for the first time, to Switzerland.

 

On Switzerland there is important news; Mexico has a new Swiss Ambassador, Mr Eric Mayoraz, to whom we send our best wishes for a successful diplomatic tenure plus a close cooperation with our Swiss Cultural Association Na Bolom.ch and visit Na Bolom A.C.

 

We certainly send our best wishes to Ambassador Louis-José Touron who had a very successful work, including the activities for the 75 anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Mexico and becoming an active and supportive person to Na Bolom.ch.

 

HAPPY 2019 TO ALL OF YOU – May your wishes all come through!

 

You can read all our stories clicking into: www.nabolom.ch and follow us in Facebook.

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