Guatemala

Lucky enough to be able to visit a new country to me, I was able to spend 17 days looking for nature and observing how people lived in:
- Guatemala City (only staying at a hostel for my first and last nights in the country
- Panajachel, at the edge of Lake Atitlan, for most of my stay but visiting various villages around the lake
- Chichicastenango, mostly for market day
- Quetzaltenango for a couple of days

Other than admiring the wonderful textile work done by Mayan women on a back-strap loom, and observing how they dresses and worked, my most favorite part was to spend some time in lush vegetation rich in fauna. Since it was the rainy season the challenge was to explore when the sun was out, particularly to see butterflies and insects.

My favorite location was "Reserva Natural Atitlan" about a kilometer away from Panajachel. It is a secondary forest that was, at some point, a coffee plantation and later an attempt was made to grow sugarcane. The major challenge for me was to be able to focus my camera with low light under the thick canopy while my glasses and viewfinders would fog up. Being alone on the trails and suspended bridges was a thrill. Time was of no importance and "Now" was all that mattered.

Posted by microm microm, September 15, 2013 08:14 AM

Comments

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What a great opportunity. How did you travel from place to place? Are the roads mostly dirt? Was any restoration done to remove most of the coffee and sugarcane plants?

Posted by lynnwatson over 5 years ago (Flag)
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To answer your question, Lynn, I traveled on foot, boat called "Lanchas" across Lake Atitlan, Tuc-tuc (imported from Asian, I think) around town and to a couple of villages , minivans (that can seat a greater number of people than it should), car, and "Chicken bus" which are reformed US school buses fancied up with colorful paint job and chrome, used to go from town to town.
Roads in town were mostly cobblestone or paved. There are probably some dirt roads that I didn't see and I would suspect the rain to create some serious ruts.
As far as the removal of coffee plants and sugarcane, I could not tell you with certainty. One person told me that sugarcane is not a good crop for the area because of the few months of rainy season and possibly high elevation.
At this point, there are only a couple of trails, quite a few suspended bridges and the vegetation is dense. I did not see any obvious sugarcane plants although I saw a similar plant that I did not recognize and will post later.

I also forgot to mention that I visited a Mayan medicinal plant garden and discovered the wonderful taste of Aztec Sweet Herb = Lippia dulcis. Photos will follow.

Posted by microm over 5 years ago (Flag)
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Interesting, read from Wiki, Lippia dulcis is sweet but does not cause tooth decay.

Otherwise, it sounds as though native vegetation is dominant and lush, and if not a good place for sugarcane, the sugarcane will be naturally removed/displaced. Glad there are only a couple trails.

Posted by lynnwatson over 5 years ago (Flag)
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Looks like it was an awesome trip. It looks like you had fun seeing new plants and animals and experiencing a different culture.

Posted by sekihiker over 5 years ago (Flag)

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