MANI, Yucatán.- Mr. Juan de la Cruz Castillo Argüello, 83 years old, is a prominent historian and cultural promoter of the Maya culture in his community. Don Juan made in his home a small ecological garden decorated with traditional objects and stone mounds.
“I really like the Maya culture, there is a lot of wealth in it that we have inherited from our ancestors and that has been passed from generation to generation; their ways of living, their stories and their knowledge” said Mr. de la Cruz, who has always shown great love for his homeland.
That feeling of belonging to this millenary culture has moved him to promote everything related to the Maya, as much as he can. With great patience, during three years, the man started his personal project of a “botanical garden” in his own backyard, where he likes to receive visitors and share with them his knowledge about his native Maní and the Maya.
In the property there is also a small space that Don Juan has designated as a”museum”, where he keeps traditional ancient pieces and objects that he has found and taken care of with great appreciation over the years.
There is also a sacbé, or path, where visitors can make a peculiar and significant journey among plants and small stone mounds that resemble some of the most important structures of the Maya and even Olmec cultures.
Each piece is made with stones of all sizes, arranged to emulate monuments such as Uxmal’s “Pirámide del Adivino” and other structures that resemble buildings of Chichen Itza, sites of the Ruta Puc and even the temple of Pakal in Palenque, Chiapas.
In the property you can also see a Chultún that served as a water deposit for the ancient Maya.
As visitors walk around the botanical garden, stories are told by Don Juan, who served as mayor of Maní, from 1982 to 1984.
Undoubtedly, the man represents a great historical and cultural asset to the municipality, for his vast knowledge of of the Maya and his native Maní.
Don Juan is distinguished for his willingness to tell the others about the history of the community, and the stories that keep alive the legacy of his Maya ancestors.
He is currently part of the non-profit, apolitical and secular civil association “Koonex Maní” (Let’s go Maní). The organism has the purpose of promoting and preserving the tangible, intangible, ecological, historical and cultural heritage of the town of Maní.
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