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Sanarate, El Progreso, Guatemala, Central America.





Village of El Barranquillo

The founding of El Barranquillo village dates back to the time when the Ferrocarril del Norte (Northern Railroad) line was built, at the end of the 19th Century. At that time, the Executives from the construction company set out to establish at set distances one from the next, settlements of workers to facilitate logistics. In this way, each work crew did not have to make long trips in order to supply themselves with materials and food, making the arduous task of opening trenches and laying the railway line more efficient.

And this is how some places like El Chilar, Briceña, El Trujillo, Estación Jalapa, El Barranquillo, Cromo, Cruz, La Libertad, etc., were permanently founded. The most important place was El Barranquillo, because of its two access routes: From Sanarate entering by the Agua Salóbrega village and from Sansare entering by the village of Los Cerritos.

From the long removed time of its founding until the end of operations of the railroad at the beginning of the 21st Century, El Barranquillo lived for and from the railroad. Many excellent railroad workers were trained here, such as telegraphists, brakemen, warehousemen, foremen, conductors, etc. In fact, some ended up occupying high administrative positions in the hierarchy of the company, such as “Department Director”, and other highly important positions.

When the railroad stopped operating for good, for El Barranquillo, it represented a strong blow to its economy and a change in its daily habits. The majority of employees who were of retirement age went ahead and retired, and now live calmly in the village, remembering with nostalgia the glorious times during the height of the railroad, which injected life into this community.

El Barranquillo is located 12 kilometers away from the municipality of Sanarate. However, if you decide some day that you want to visit this beautiful place, try not to do it during the rainy season. Entering by the Agua Salóbrega village and then passing by the El Jute village, during the winter season the access road becomes a river bed. The constant flow maintained by this river make the trip quite difficult, having to travel over water and mud. Yet, all the difficulty of the trip is forgotten soon after reaching the village, since visitors are always received with a welcoming smile in the invariably cordial setting provided by the locals.

The most attractive point of the village is its spectacular footbridge, solidly built over the Barranquillo River. This river becomes quite plentiful during the winter months and needs to be respected, since it has already taken the lives of some people who have underestimated its strength and flow. As a result of the strength of the river, a few careless souls have been dragged away by the current, later to be found much further downstream and lifeless.

As far as the source of the financial income of the residents of El Barranquillo, it is not much different than in the rest of the villages in Sanarate, with remittances from family members living abroad accounting for a significant portion of the income of the village. Furthermore, some residents of the village are employed in public institutions and private companies, as well as in the industry and commerce of the Guatemalan capital.

Agriculture, particularly produces beans grown on the gravelly foot hills, which are ideal for this crop. Other crops include corn, yucca, loroco, pumpkin, etc. All of the families in the village also dedicate a portion of their time to raising domesticated animals such as ducks, pigs, chickens, turkeys, etc., both for their own consumption as well as for sale, in case that they need funds to cover the family expenses.

For the school – age population, there is the village school in which classes are taught from kindergarten to 6th grade in roomy and comfortable facilities. Almost every family has their own vehicle, such as a motorcycle, pick-up truck or car, and there is also a bus which makes two trips every day to and from Sanarate vía Agua Salóbrega. Internally the residents of the El Barranquillo village carry their agricultural products using handcrafted carts designed for transport over the railway lines. In this way they can cover great distances with minimum effort, while also transporting people and domestic animals.

The most notable aspect of El Barranquillo is the calm life which is led by its residents, removed from the characteristic hustle and bustle which is typical of other, more populated places, and which explains their longevity, good health, kindness and excellent mood of the native residents of the place.

tono herrera gudiel

Reportaje y Fotos:
Jorge H. Herrera

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