Translated by Katrina Hassan
The Little Pine Tree became a point of reference for giving directions in my hometown of Ciudad Peronia. “Two blocks from the little pine, up the road from the little pine, down the road from it, the houses in front of it, the houses closest to it, the little pine bus stop or drop off.
The Little Pine or “El Pinito” was a tree that survived the division into lots of our neighborhood back in the late 1980s. When that happened, the plains near the local hamlets of El Calvario, La Ceiba and the residential neighborhood of Las Terrazas became Ciudad Peronia. The streets had river names like Usumacinta on lot 2, The Danube on lot 10 and the Euphrates on lot 5.
The Little Pine, on the corner of the Danube and the main boulevard, on the right side going towards La Ceiba was a very very tall tree. So tall was the Little Pine that its branches kept getting trimmed over the years. At the end of the 90s it only had a little tuft at the top. The tree is located in a fork of the road. Nobody ever touches that little bit of land because that land belongs to The Little Pine.
Up the road of Little Pine Tree is the Jerusalem neighborhood. This used to be a huge grassy plain where there was an abundance of Mimosa, Callistemon y May Flowers that always bloomed after the first rainfall. Half a block up the road from the Little Pine to the left is the crossing of the Rio Colorado.
On right side of the Rio Colorado, in the direction of the water pump, is Doña Irene’s shop. It has fed countless families and was one of the first shops in Ciudad Peronia. The mill where Juanito used to grind nixtamal and spices for tamales is also near there. He ground nixtamal there until he left for the north, undocumented, in the 90s.
I have indelible memories of the Little Pine Tree. Its shade would let us rest a few minutes when we were sent for groceries and also on the daily ice cream selling shifts.
The Little Pine Tree should officially be declared The Heritage of Ciudad Peronia. It should be cared for with great interest. It has been witness to the lives of whole generations. It’s bark contains the collective memory of Ciudad Peronia, and what was there before the machines came and divided the plains up into lots. This became one of the most populated neighborhoods in the outskirts of Guatemala City.
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Ilka Oliva-Corado @ilkaolivacorado