Folklore and Fiestas in Jocotán

The procession includes a ritual for a good harvest (photo: Hugo Peña Montes Ramirez)

The procession includes a ritual for a good harvest (photo: Hugo Peña Montes Ramirez)

This year the folkloric festival is celebrated April 26-28 and the feria is July 21-25

Interested in Mayan culture and want to check out a lesser-known region of Guatemala? Thinking about visiting the ruins of Copán? You can combine a trip to Copán, Honduras, with a stop in Jocotán, Chiquimula, Guatemala, and learn more about the Maya Ch’orti’.

The Ch’orti’ are related culturally and linguistically to the lowland Maya of Yucatán and Belize (Chol) rather than the highland Maya of Guatemala (Quiche-Pokam); scholars agree that ancestors of the Ch’orti’ built the Copán (Honduras) and Quiriguá (Guatemala) structures.

Jocotán is situated in the middle of the Ch’orti’ homeland, located just off a paved highway between the department capital of Chiquimula and the Honduran border crossing of El Florido. This community hosts a yearly feria honoring Saint Santiago (July 21-25) and a regional folkloric festival (April 26-28). The latter was initiated by Jocotán teachers in 1986 as a way to highlight Ch’orti’ culture, and activities include dance, music, procession and a handicraft market, as well as the election of Katu Suchij or Reyna o Flor de Maguey (Queen or Flower of Maguey). The feria patronal also includes a rodeo.

While visiting Jocotán you can relax in the new central park, view the colonial church, wander through an interesting Sunday market, or soak in nearby hot springs. The town is small enough to explore easily by foot, but there are plenty of tuktuks if you want a ride.

A relaxing place to enjoy a drink or meal is the ecotourism restaurant Río Grande and a comfortable place to stay is the Hotel Ramírez/Cuna Maya Chorti (www.hotelcunamayachorti.com). Reservations can be made via e-mail or by phone: hotelramirez@hotmail.com or cocinerohugo@gmail.com or (502) 4770-7691).

To get to Jocotán take any bus or microbus between Guatemala City/Chiquimula and El Florido, including the Litegua bus company (www.litegua.com). It also runs minibuses between La Antigua Guatemala and its main Guatemala City bus terminal. (Antigua office: (502) 7832-9850).

Dance group dressed in Ch’orti’ traje (photo: Hugo Peña Montes Ramirez)

Dance group dressed in Ch’orti’ traje (photo: Hugo Peña Montes Ramirez)

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