Friday, January 23, 2009

Just call me Indio - from Revue Magazine

Revue Magazine: Home / Guatemala, Lake Atitlán / Just call me Indio
By Dwight Wayne Coop • September 1, 2008

One of Panajachel’s most colorful and asked-about personages, tourists and locals know him as a master craftsman who sells his own handiwork.

Francisco Quiej calls himself “Indio” by DWC

Self-promoter, religious huckster, iconoclast, “loco”—Francisco Quiej has been called all these things; none is anywhere near the truth. “Indio” is what he calls himself, even though his fellow Mayas consider the term an insult.

This renaming took place in 1994 on a mountaintop. Francisco saw no burning bush on the slope, but “in my heart there was a burning conviction that I should wear this name.” Indio has since climbed summits throughout Central America, seeking prime meditation venues.

“That name carries 500 years of baggage,” he says. “Being pejorative, it’s also purifying, because as a bad name it obligates me to better myself, by doing right by others. Then I can wear it as a badge of shame and pride, at the same time.” It may be working; Indio is well spoken of by those who actually know him.
He is native to Zunil, a K’iché town near Quetzaltenango, where his parents were members of the “agricultural caste.” Even so, his father completed school and became a teacher; Indio and his five siblings therefore grew up in a literate household.

Indio is today one of Panajachel’s most colorful and asked-about personages. Tourists and expats know him as a master craftsman who sells his own handiwork: spherical lampshades by the cluster that waft, cloudlike, up and down the Santander Strip, turning heads. (more)

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Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.