Escaping the Fire: How an Ixil Mayan Pastor Led His People out of a Holocaust during the Guatemalan Civil War

By Tomás Guzaro; Terri Jacob McComb | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Between Two Fires
OCTOBER 1979–AUGUST 1980

I heard the poor man—how he was screaming! I thought the army soldiers had
surrounded us, but Tomás and I outran them on horseback to the top of the hill.
I jumped off and hid in the tall grass beside a kitchen, and twice soldiers almost
found me. I almost ran because I was afraid. I knew they would have killed me
.
PI’L (FELIPE GUZARO COBO)

My friend Pi’l arrived at my house on horseback before dawn. He was a goodnatured friend with black curly hair, bronze skin, and ruddy cheeks. Our plan was to ride our horses six hours to San Nicolás where we would leave them stabled. From there we would catch a ride on an old bus down a dirt road to Huehuetenango, where we would buy clothes such as socks, underwear, and baby stocking caps to sell in our tiendas. We had already made this same trip together several times.

I saddled Prieto, and we rode together in the fog down the hill to the edge of Salquil. When we got to the outskirts, I heard something strange. “Wait!” I whispered to Pi’l as I pulled Prieto to a stop. It was barely light enough to see trees and houses through the early-morning fog. We listened. A man was screaming, and it sounded as if a hard object were hitting his body. Seconds later we heard the sound of metal clasps on gun straps knocking against rifles as army soldiers marched our way.

“They’re coming!” I whispered to Pi’l just as the soldiers emerged from the mist and spotted us.

“There’s more!” one of them shouted. “Two more of them are over here!”

They ran toward us. Turning our horses around, we raced up the hill, past my house, and into the village center. We jumped off the horses and ran through a cornfield. Pi’l went one way, and I went the other. Running around the back of the hill and fighting my way through the tangle of tall white and

-79-

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