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Finding Home in Two Worlds

Part: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The last thing we do in Santiago Atitlán is visit this mischievous Mayan God called Moximón. You pay a little money to a kid in the village and ask where Moximón is living at the moment. They'll take you to a dark, incense-filled room. When your eyes adjust, you see a bunch of men, called the Brotherhood, guarding a life-sized but legless wooden figure. Moximón has a mustache and at least one cigarette sticking out from a hole in his mouth. Diego sits down next to Dolores in front of Moximón while the Brotherhood and other visitors look on.

Diego says goodbye to his birth family
photo by Ellen Guettler

"This is Moximón," says Dolores. "He is the holy grandfather. This is the main God for the Mayan in this village. The Mayan Tzutujil. And people come here, they worship Moximón. They want a blessing from him for studying or a job or anything they want to do."

"Can you ask the people who own Moximón to tell them can I visit anytime?" Diego asks.

"Anytime," says Dolores. "He says this is your home. You can come anytime Diego."

"Gracias," says Diego.

"Maltiyox chi aawe is thanks to you," says Dolores. "Can you say that?"

Diego tries, and the crowd giggles. Diego giggles too.

Back in Minnesota, we visit Diego's Guatemalan family through the photo album. Diego pulls it out a couple times a month, even though seeing Julia and the others makes him sad.

He loves knowing his Tzutujil name, "Atico." And being in Guatemala has made him want to learn Spanish.

We're not sure how Diego will deal with the difficult stuff he learned on the trip, but so far he's been his usual soulful and resilient self.

We're already talking about when to go back.

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