Country

Guatemala

Over land to the capitol

I finally got to see more of Guatemala by land yesterday. I left Flores, Petén, with Kara and Nadia at 6 a.m. Hector, our friend and driver, was behind the wheel and we headed south for hours on straight roads passing more treeless land than I had seen my entire time in Guatemala. The vast rain forest that remains to the north has long ago been transformed into great open tracts of multi-use land. Houses line the roads, roofs are tiled or metal covered rather than thatched. The livestock grazing in the fields are larger and meatier, the car traffic is denser.

Guatemala City rain and welcoming

As the sun emerges from the gray brown smog that hangs over Guatemala City's wet streets, we board our plane and are inundated by the sounds of English words, and babies crying — for the most part a universal language of frustration.

Our time here is ended (for now) and I point the Blackberry in different directions while on the plane with the hopes that I'll be able to send at least one text or one blog entry while in the clouds. I am a horrible role model when it comes to connectivity politeness; make no mistake, it's a life line and it can get Hobbesian quickly.

Sustainable forest agriculture spawns its own verb

Michael Stoll, for the Pulitzer Center
Uaxactun, Guatemala

Everyone in this village down a muddy, rutted road, 23 km past the world-famous Maya archaeological site of Tikal, knows how to "xatear."

The verb, which would stump most Guatemalans, means "to cut xate," a decorative plant used in floral arrangements in the United States and elsewhere. But as obscure as the word may sound to outside ears, it's a core activity for most of this village of fewer than 1,000 people ...

Guatemala: On the other side of the jungle

Yesterday we completed our two-day return hike from El Mirador to Carmelita. The bajos again felt muddy and endless, but with the help of an early start and a mule ride, we made it out. On our own, without the archaeologists for the first time in many days, our group of four felt small.

Guatemala: The trip

This is an area that, someday, must accommodate thousands of tourists a year if it is to realize its potential as an economic engine for the Peten region.

Guatemala: One Forest, Many Interests

We've been in Guatemala City for four days, running around nonstop. I slept for 45 minutes after our red-eye Tuesday night and managed to motor through the following day. We spent Wednesday through Friday interviewing a variety of experts and government officials. During that time, we managed to hook up with a group of archaeologists traveling to El Mirador starting on Monday. So tomorrow we board a minibus bound for Flores, Petén, and Monday we start walking north.