Sunday, December 22, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
been in and out of the commercial fertilizer business and the biofuels business in Central America and founded and run a significant new NGO, all while thinking about life’s great questions. He is a philosophy major in dirty jeans and well worn boots, living simultaneously in the modern world and a deeply traditional society.
Curt Bowen and Kristin Lacy at lunch after a morning of planting pigeonpeas.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Anne is the blond on the back row, center left, on her last day in one of the villages.
working with the Mennonites at Tzacani in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala. There she lived with a Kekchi family, learned Q’iche, one of the Mayan languages, and became a nutrition specialist.
that goes back to ancient times. For about 12 cents, anyone in the neighborhood can use it at any hour of the day.
Pigeonpeas or gandul being made into dough the traditional way.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
This post comes from Julia Gunther, 14, my granddaughter who proved to be very comfortable in Spanish during our ten days together in Guatemala. This is the second of two posts on emigration from Guatemala to the United States.
How to Make Half a Million Dollars as an Illegal Immigrant: A Guide
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Most studies of the subject make clear that immigration is a net benefit to the United States today, as it has been from the beginning.
Israel’s savings. He said yes, then gambled on 20 acres of watermelon and paid off the other half. Still he had no house.
Now he’s back in action and expects to bring 500 pounds of pigeon peas to market next year making, maybe, $100. We walk his field in the rain. He’s experimenting by the color of his seeds: will black or white be more valuable than brown?
How great is the pressure to go north? An April 30, 2011, story in the New York Times showing hundreds of Central American emigrants on the top of rail cars, said that the number of arrests for illegal border crossers from the Central American countries doubled in 2010. The U. S. has pressured Mexico to crack down on those crossing through it but surely nothing like what the U. S. is undertaking.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
(Detail of a traditional fabric from San Juan Sacatepéquez, from the Ixtel Museum, Guatemala City.)
In front of the church at Jototenango near Antigua.
Its south-central Highlands are an attractive patchwork of green and varied fields, forests, valleys and mountains. After bright sunny mornings, rains arrive this time of year, bringing an aura of mystery as clouds drift through. For a desert-dweller, this is exciting.
Finally, add the extravagant Spanish architecture of the 16 century and the habit of painting otherwise ordinary buildings outrageous combinations of colors. All this makes Guatemala a color photographer’s dream locale.
The Department of Peten in the north occupies a third of the country and was once the center of a Mayan world of 9 million people and had the world’s largest city.
After its collapse in about 900 AD, Peten became almost uninhabited and largely unvisited until 40 years ago when the government moved people into the region. It remains healthily backwater by modern tourist standards, running on compact fluorescent bulbs or no power at all for two-thirds of the day in Tikal.
LAKE ATITLAN IN THE HIGHLANDS
Lake Atitlan from Casa del Mundo in morning calm.
Boats run like buses around and across the lake, loaded with provisions and tourists. Aldous Huxley famously compared it to Italy’s Lake Como but with volcanoes added, more beautiful than humanly permissible, he said. Saint-Exupery wrote The Little Prince here and the volcanoes on his planets are from Atitlan. It is Guatemala’s number one tourist attraction.
Income inequality and absolute poverty remain. This leads the ambitious to try to make it to the United States.
Unless you turn a deaf ear, there are tough stories behind beautiful places around Lake Atitlan. A few days after being there, I had dinner with a woman from Great Britain, Claire McKeown Davies and her husband, Chris, an acting teacher from the Old Vic in Bristol. Claire was working for Oxfam USA at a time when it was heavily involved in the cause of the poor farmers from whom the revolt against the government had sprung. When she came to Santiago Atitlan on the lake in l990, the government had just mowed down peasants from 13 villages who had marched, unarmed, on the military base outside of town. “It was a tense time,” she understates. Oxfam had become accustomed to the CIA raiding its offices in search of evidence against the rebels.
A food market scene from Santiago Atitlan....
... some roadside flowers--not the least bit unusual as they were sold in many little stalls on the rainy road from Panachel to Antigua.