Site, Modern Town
Century: The Finca
and Cultural Challenges
The Cooperative and
the Town Today
Cautions for Western Visitors
Employment and Other Needs
Tourism and Crafts
Community: Ancient Site, Modern Town
is the name of both a great ancient Maya city and a small modern
village or aldea located in the piedmont or Bocacosta of southwestern
Guatemala, one of the most agriculturally fertile and productive
areas in Central America.
Chocolá is about three hours by car from Guatemala City and
two hours by car from the popular tourist attraction of Lake Atitlán.
towns and cities include Santo Tomás la Unión, San
Pablo Jocopilas, Samayac (the renowned “capital of Mesoamerican
shamanism”), San Francisco Zapotitlán, and Mazatenango—all
attested as great producers of cacao in prehispanic and immediately
Chocolá area is mild and temperate throughout the year, with
the exception of two rainy seasons, in May and September. Heavy
rains in 2005 led to devastating landslides in many nearby communities,
although Chocolá was largely spared the worst of it. There
are many health concerns in Chocolá, most of which are related
to endemic poverty and lack of access to quality water and medical
ancient site lies beneath and around the village. Chocolá
today is a community of small-plot coffee farmers, mostly Quiché
Maya, formally integrated under Guatemalan law as an agricultural
cooperative. Currently, the impact and detritus of 500 years of
conquest, colonialism, post-colonialism, and, now, globalism, are
the population of the site possibly outnumbered the approximately
10,000 inhabitants of the modern town; one can see in the town today
and in the archaeology the waxings and wanings of, and, more recently,
the violent attacks on, millennia-old Maya peoples and cultures.
The modern town of Chocolá is an
arresting blend of ancient and modern.
The sense of community that has kept
Chocolá together through centuries of
upheaval is evident in the town today.