Los Barriletes Gigantes

Christopher Ornelas
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My brain is a little bit fried right now after talking with Melanie, who is here in Guatemala writing her dissertation. The woman knows everything there is to know about Guatemalan politics. She talked and talked, and as she talked, she made me realize how much of a beginner I am. I feel like I am just scratching the surface of a very deep and bloody history.

Today was long but very productive. I now have good standing with Frederico and Luis thanks to Drachen Foundation. It is very reassuring to know that I am not simply walking into this as a complete outsider. Everyone knows everyone here.

Finding out the history of the Kite Festival is going to be tricky. It seems that neither Frederico nor Luis know the origins of the kites. However, they did lead me to some interesting hypotheses.

Theory 1: The kites are Aztec. Evidence: The name Sumpango is a transliterated word for Tzompantli, the Aztec name for sacrificial skull racks. Supposedly, there is reference in the Dresden codex to a special kind of weather device made of the leaves of papalot trees and used to determine wind patterns. It is most likely some kind of kite, which would explain the Mexican word for kite, papalote.

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