Wasteko - Settlements



Most Wasteko live in scattered farmsteads, but there is a trend toward the development of hamlets comprised of second homes that are located where electricity is available. The few roads that exist are in bad condition, and, although bus and taxi service is available in the larger town centers, most outlying hamlets are accessible only on foot. A trip to the weekly market can require a walk of two hours or more.

The typical household cluster on each farmstead includes a one-room apsidal structure and a one-room round structure, both with thatched roofs, walls of unplastered vertical poles, and dirt floors. Furnishings are minimal: a table and a chair or so, a traditional three-stone hearth for boiling dried maize kernels with ash to soften them, a metal grinder for the initial coarse grinding of the softened maize, and a metate (grindstone) to grind it fine for tortilla dough. A raised hearth with an inset pottery griddle for cooking tortillas, a few pots, and a small altar complete the household furnishings. Some households have raised beds made of wooden poles, but most people put their sleeping mats on the dirt floors or outside on their patios. A cleared open space around the house and the area under the wide roof overhang provide additional living space. Households often include extended families, and the house cluster may support several hearths. Households belong to communities that occupy sites that range in size from 500 to several thousand hectares. The communities are integrated into municipios, which include blocks of Wasteko settlements scattered on the marginal lands around ranches and small private parcels owned by mestizos. Each municipio is named after the main town center, which is the site of the weekly market and the focus of churchgoing on Sundays. Few Wasteko live in the town center. The population density of municipios with significant Wasteko presence is approximately 100 persons per square kilometer.


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