Princesas Maya de Guatemala

Mayan girls of Lago Izabal, Guatemala.

When our sailboat drops anchor for the first time near Finca Jocoro we are greeted by a hundred kids. Most don’t speak Spanish but Qeqchi. They are wearing secondhand American clothes, the younger ones are naked. An average family here has between 7 and 10 kids and the village seams entirely populated by children. I notice that many of the older girls are holding babies in their arms, the way girls back in Canada are holding dolls, but they don’t look like kids playing with toys, rather like miniature mothers.

A Mayan girl starts working helping with chores around the house as soon as she turns three: feeding the chickens and ducks, the cats and dogs, cleaning the house, washing the clothes. The older girls’ responsibilities include carrying firewood, making tortillas, selling produce at the market, but mainly: taking care of the youngsters. Thus, they are ready to be mothers and housewives even before they reach puberty.

Everywhere I go: in Finca Jocoro, El Estor, Finca Paraiso, Playa Pataxte, I am captivated by the indigenous girls’ maturity and mysterious coarse beauty. I ask them if I can photograph them. The bravest ones face my huge camera, some for the first time in their life, with reservation and mistrust, but many refuse to be photographed, giggle and hide. Still, in just a few days I accumulate an impressive collection of girl-portraits from the local Qeqchi communities of Lago Izabal. I name the project “Pricesas Mayas de Guatemala”. It attempts to reveal the Mayan girls’ present reality in their natural surroundings challenging the western norms for beautyand and innosence. 

 

.

.

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

Share

Our Boat Just Got Bigger!

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

You might think it’s impossible for a boat to get bigger. Usually the opposite phenomenon occurs: boats get smaller with time. Stuff accumulates and every niche, every corner gets filled with things. Books, clothes, shoes, dishes, tools, food reserves, extra sails, and spare parts slowly and almost unnoticeably pile up on top of each other and inevitably conquer the entire space.

Fata Morgana´s salona dn galley

Fata Morgana´s salon and galley

Usually, there is no remedy for this situation. In the battle of stuff vs. people, stuff always wins. People, defeated, simply abandon the boat and move to a bigger one where the process repeats. But there are a few rare instances where a boat can get bigger, which has nothing to do with stuff. And I am not talking about adding a second floor or half the crew members moving out taking the salon table along. No, I am talking about an enclosure.

 

The cockpit with its new enclosure

The cockpit with its new enclosure

Fata Morgana got her new custom made „jacket“ here in Rio Dulce, and she is sexier than ever. We always wanted to have a dodger and an enclosure as it transforms the open cockpit into another roomy space sheltered from wind and rain where the family can now enjoy dinner ever when the weather is nasty and the helmsman doesn’t get soaked while sailing in the rain. It is like installing glass panes around a balcony.

 

But the first time we got a quote for a dodger and an enclosure in Florida, we got shocked. The cost of such a luxury in the United States is more than the price of most boats we have seen until now. The materials are expensive and the per-hour fees are lethal. So we considered making an enclosure or at least a dodger ourselves and ultimately dropped the project, as we don’t have a clue how to do it. Until we got to Rio Dulce and met Elmer Rauda.

 

Elmer Rauda

Elmer Rauda

Elmer has the biggest upholstery company in Rio Dulce, AquaMarine, with six full-time workers and an extensive 15-year experience in the business of making furniture, marine enclosures, boat cushions, dinghy covers, hatch covers, and whatever canvass work you need for the boat.

 

AquaMarine office

AquaMarine office

We found him by asking around and he was the only one strongly recommended by other boaters who have been using his services, even though there are four more small upholstery shops in the area. For less than a quarter of the price we were asked to pay in Florida, he and his men made for us not only a dodger and a full enclosure but also a dinghy cover and even repaired a big hole in our jib. The jobs were done in less than one month: from measure taking to installation. We also got an additional discount thanks to this blog: AguaMarine is now one of our official sponsors. Check them out on our Sponsors page!

 

Elmer and an employee taking measurements for the dodger

Elmer and an employee taking measurements for the dodger

Conclusion: If you are ever in need of a custom-made dinghy cover, dodger, enclosure, cushions, etc. for your boat and you want to save money and time, head to Rio Dulce and call Elmer at: 4966-7095. AquaMarine is located in Fronteras de Rio Dulce, Cruce San Felipe de Lara (in front of the Panaderia San Antonio)

.

Installing the enclosure

Installing the enclosure

 

Share

The Cave Expedition

 

 

The week after our first failed attempt to visit a cave, we (FiendShip and Fata Morgana crews) sailed to Finca Paraiso on the north shore of Lago Izabal. We leave the boats anchored there, sneak past the Agua Caliente hot springs and waterfall and after about 40 minutes hiking through the jungle, we finally get to the entrance of a big deep dark cave.

 

Maya walking through the jungle

Maya walking through the jungle

 

The members of the this time successful cave expedition are: Daeli, Noial, Lovam, Spirit, Ivo, Maya, and myself. Three adults, three kids, and a dog.

 

Mira walking towards the cave

Mira walking towards the cave

 

The walk through the jungle is fun, the kids are running in front, and even Lovam, the youngest member of the expedition doesn’t complain. I am at the back of the group, stopping from time to time to take pictures and am the last one to arrive at the cave entrance. I hear the others go „Wow!“ one by one as they come out of the forest and very suddenly face a giant gaping black hole in the rocky wall of the mountain. I go „Wow!“ too.

 

Entering the cave

Entering the cave

 

There she is, finally, awaiting, hungry, her sharp teeth drooling with underground waters; spiders, the squeaky sound of bats, disturbed. We enter, eager, cautious, our flashlights illuminate her bowels: strange textures and shapes.

 

.

.

 

Our eyes widen in the dark, we cling to each other. Her breath is humid and cool: the sweet-and-sour smell of guano. Our voices travel the dark walls of the cavern’s huge chamber in a weird way: bumping, disappearing, coming back again.

 

Inside the cave

Inside the cave

 

We go further. We get to a place where it becomes impossible to continue without ropes. The cave plunges some ten meters down and we don’t know what lies beyond. There is nothing more mysterious than the entrails of a cave.

 

The kids staring in the dark

The kids staring in the dark

 

Cave Picture Gallery

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

Noial, Maya, Ivo, and Lovam

Noial, Maya, Ivo, and Lovam

 

 

 

 

Mira

Mira

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

 

Daeli and Ivo lightpainting

Daeli and Ivo lightpainting

 

Share

In Search of the Lost Cave

 Hiking Across the Guatemalan countryside

 

.

.

 

The mountains around Lago Izabal are home of many caves. Most are difficult to find and hard to access as there are no roads, not even paths leading there but wilderness. Once, we walked up and down Sierra de las Minas all day searching for a cave we never found.

Our journey started on a Friday afternoon. Together with the FriendShips we sail to Dennis Beach, on the south shore of the lake. We leave the two boats anchored there and we head for the mountains looking for a cave.

 

The beginning of the long walk.  Noial, maya, Ivo and Daeli walking past a traditional mayan house

The beginning of the long walk.
Noial, maya, Ivo and Daeli walking past a traditional mayan house

 

Joni stays behind chilling on the beach with Elan and Lovam. The rest of us: Daeli, Noial, Ivo, Viktor, Maya, and I, with Spirit and a random dog that joined us, spend the day hiking through the Guatemalan countryside following a narrow path through the jungle, past a small Mayan village, across rivers, bamboo forests, cornfields, and cow pastures.

 

Bamboo forest

Bamboo forest

 

We meet people carrying wood and people working in the fields and every time we ask them for directions to the cave. “Down the path, across the river, past the orange orchard is the cave”, they tell us, but we lost our way and cannot find it. And it doesn’t matter anyway. The green of the land, the hot smell of the cornfields, the coolness of the river waters, and the spectacular view of the lake shining beneath the mountain is worth it.

 

River crossing

River crossing

 

We return to Dennis Beach before dark, tired, our feet covered with mud, our sight filled with green landscapes.

 

More photos from the hike
.

.

 

 

.

.

 

 

.

Cornfield

 

 

.

.

 

 

Daeli with cows and two dogs

Daeli with cows and two dogs

 

 

 

.

View of Lago Izabal

 

 

.

.

 

 

.

A Traditional Mayan House

 

 

 

 

.

.

 

 

 

Maya and Noial met a family of ducks

Maya and Noial met a family of ducks

 

 

Maya and Noial chilling in the stream

Maya and Noial chilling in the stream

 

 

Share

Twenty Kids in One Kayak

 

Where I live is practically a paradise, the country is so beautiful. There are no big roads, and no cars. Only people can reach it. Everything is taken down the mountainside on horseback or else we carry it ourselves. 

-Rigoberta Menchu Tum

Finca Jocoro

Finca Jocoro

„Ivooooooo, Ivooooooo!“

We hear the kids calling from the shore.

„Ivooooooo, Ivooooooo!“

The kids have remembered Ivo’s name. The kids remember how much fun they had playing football with Ivo and his jokes. We told them we would return to play with them again and bring kandies and we kept our promise. They have been waiting for us for three weeks, and now they have seen the boats near the shores again. They have been expecting us. They are excited and happy.

 

The kids waiting for us to come ashore

The kids waiting for us to come ashore. Fata Morgana and Friendship anchored in the distance.

 

Three weeks ago we sailed to Finca Jocoro and spent a day there playing with the kids. Finca Jocoro is not one of the tourist attractions in the cruising guides, as there is nothing there for the tourists to see, no beach, no waterfall, no cave, no restaurant, no shop. Only a tiny village of a few wooden houses populated by kids who speak Q’eqchi and a little Spanish. There is a school, a church, and a football field. When we approach the place from Lago Izabal we recognize the great hundreds of years old ceiba tree, a few small buildings and a bunch of children playing near the waters.

 

.

View of Finca Jocoro from the lake

 

There are no streets in the village but a few narrow paths between the houses.

 

.

The main „street“

 

The houses are small wooden constructions with dried palm leaf roofs, same as they were a thousand years ago. It takes a couple of weeks to build such a house, and the entire community helps.

 

.

A traditional mayan house.

 

Up to twenty-thirty people could be living in one of them, along with chickens and other domestic animals.

 

A boy and a pig in front of a house

A boy and a pig in front of a house

 

The houses are grouped in communes: six or seven homes separated from the others by a fence. In Fnca Jocoro there are four or five communes, or aldeas. We walk around escorted by kids. For them a visit by „estranjeros“ is a huge event.

 

.

Kids in one of the aldeas

 

Every time I pull my camera to take a picture, the kids pile up in front of the lense. For them it’s a fun game. They pose, often very serious, and then come around me to look at the picture on the small screen of the camera and lough.

 

Posing for a picture

Posing for a picture

 

Then we play football. The field is at a slight angle and there is cow poop everywhere, but that doesn’t stop anyone from enjoying the game.

 

.

Football game in Finca Jocoro

 

At the end of the day the kids don’t want to let us go. They devise a plan: to steal our kayak so we cannot return to the boats.

 

The kids steal our kayak

The kids steal our kayak

 

Their mean plan works for a while, but is overall unsuccessful. Ivo brings them back making sure all of them fall in the water once or twice at least.

 

Ivo pulling the kayak loaded with kids back to shore.

Ivo pulling the kayak loaded with kids back to shore.

 

As we paddle back to the boats, the kids swim after us and try to convince us to stay a bit longer.

 

.

.

„Ivooooo! Ivoooo!“, they shout.

We promise, again, we will return.

The kids of Finca Jocoro

The kids of Finca Jocoro

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Most of all, I need a friend

 

Maya with candies

Maya with candies

She was crying.

„You know how much I need a friend? I would give up all the candies in the world and all my toys for a friend right now… And every time I make a friend we leave or they leave… You know how many friends I’ve lost? Too many…“

„Don’t cry, Maya, you are making me sad. A friend you never really lose. You always keep them in your heart. Your heart will become a piggybank of friends, a map of the world with a million pins: a pin for each friend, you will see. You will become Million-Friends-Maya.“

“ I only need one now…“

 

 

This was weeks ago.

Maya met Noial on a Friday, at noon. By 2 pm they were best friends.

 

Maya and Noial. Breakfast after a sleepover in the boat.

Maya and Noial.
Breakfast after a sleepover in the boat.

 

Since then, they have been together all the time. At school, at the boat, at the pool. In jungles, in rivers, in caves.

 

At school

Noial and Maya In the schoolyard with chickens

Noial and Maya
In the schoolyard with chickens

 

 At the boat

Noual and Maya Making art while sailing

Noial and Maya
Making art while sailing

At the pool

Maya and Noial At Nanajuana Pool

Maya and Noial
At Nanajuana Pool

In jungles

Maya and Noial Hiking up the river

Maya and Noial
Hiking up the river

In rivers

Maya and Noial Chilling in the river

Maya and Noial
Chilling in the river

In caves

Noial and Maya Light-painting in a cave

Noial and Maya
Light-painting in a cave

They have been taking showers together, dancing together, jumping together.

Shower together

Noial and Maya  Taking a river shower off the boat.

Noial and Maya
Taking a river shower off the boat.

Dance together

Maya and Noial At a school party

Maya and Noial
At a school party

Jump together

Noial and Maya  Jumping off the boat

Noial and Maya
Jumping off the boat

The best moments are the ones we share with a good friend.

Maya and Noial  Taking El Poderoso (the kayak) for a ride

Maya and Noial
Taking El Poderoso (the kayak) for a ride

Maya and Noial In traditional Guatemalan costumes at the school dance.

Maya and Noial
In traditional Guatemalan costumes at the school dance.

They even cried together once…

Share

Exploring Guatemala’s Natural Wonders. Agua Caliente

 

Vista of Lago Izabal

Vista of Lago Izabal

 

Guatemala, a Biodiversity Hotspot

 

Between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, just south of Mexico, lies a small Central American country. Guatemala, a place of many trees, is one of the most biologically abundant regions in the world with a unique ecosystem: a reservoir of biodiversity. Coming from Canada where half the time we were looking at snow covered landscapes, it took us some time to adjust our vision to the Guatemalan green around us. The Nature here has gone crazy.

The country has been designated as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspot, a rich biogeographic region containing distinct fauna and flora of which over 6% of animal species and 13% of plant species are endemic, many under threat from humans.

There are five different ecosystems in Guatemala with climate varying from hot and humid tropical lowlands to drier and cooler highlands. With mangrove forests, ocean littorals, rivers and lakes, jungle-covered mountain ranges, wetlands, small deserts, valleys, volcanoes, caves, and cenotes, Guatemala offers countless destinations to nature-lovers like us.

 

Guatemalan Green

Guatemalan Green

Agua Caliente

It’s Friday. After dropping off the kids at school Joni and me go grocery shopping in Fronteras, stocking up fruits, vegetables and beer for the weekend. As soon as the kids finish school, at noon, we lift anchors and spread the sails. Fata Morgana and her best friend FrindShip are off for the weekend. Past El Castillo de San Felipe, we  navigate west for a few hours. It is an absolute pleasure sailing in a lake. No waves, light wind, green shores all around us. Two families, two boats, five kids, one dog. The lake is ours!

 

FriendShip and Fata Morgana sailing together in Lago Izabal.  Photo by Joni

FriendShip and Fata Morgana sailing together in Lago Izabal.
Photo by Joni

 

Lago Izabal is the biggest lake in Guatemala with a surface of approximately 600 km² and many rivers draining into it, of which the biggest one is Polochic River. The lake is surrounded by evergreen mountains, Sierra de Santo Cruz to the north and Sierra de las Minas to the south. At the foot of the mountains near the shores of the lake there are a few small fincas (villages) where Q’eqchi and Q’iche communities still live in the same way their ancestors did, in small wooden houses with roofs of dried palm leaves.

 

FriendShip and Fata Morgana anchored near Finca Paraiso

FriendShip and Fata Morgana anchored near Finca Paraiso

 

After about ten miles of navigating we drop anchors in front of Finca Paraiso. The next morning we all go to shore and head to Agua Caliente (Hot Water). We start early, to make sure there will be no one else but us, as the tourists start to arrive there by bus around 10 am. After a short hike parallel to a small river, past cow pastures and a village from a different era, we get to the place. From the green mouth of the forest above us a small waterfall tumbles down into a deep pool. Not a big waterfall at all. If you have seen many waterfalls (coming from Canada- Niagara, hello!) you might not even notice this one. But wait until you feel its waters.

 

Agua Caliente waterfall

Agua Caliente waterfall

 

The waterfall is hot! There is a geothermal spring above the river. Before reaching the edge of the rocks and plunging thirty feet into the cold river below, the hot spring waters form two scalding shallow pools and then cascade down the rocks. Speaking of hotspots! The deep pool below is a mixture of hot water from the fall and cold water from the main river.

We spend a few hours there swimming in the cold river below, soaking in the hot pools above, jumping from the rocks. Standing under a hot waterfall is a bizarre feeling. The water is heavy, pushing me down, falling relentlessly, booming, never stopping. I close my eyes. Only the compact hollow noise, the unforgiving liquid weight and a gentle smell of humid vegetation and minerals. The most extreme shower I ever took.  

 

Photos of Agua Caliente Waterfall

Joni, Elan, Noial, and Spirit on the rocks next to the river

Joni, Elan, Noial, and Spirit on the rocks next to the river

 

Maya jumping

Maya

 

Joni

Joni

 

Daeli

Daeli

 

Lovam and Spirit

Lovam and Spirit

 

Mira

Mira

 

Viktor

Viktor

 

Noial

Noial

 

Ivo

Ivo

 

Spirit and Daeli

Spirit and Daeli

 

Viktor

Viktor

 

Spirit

Spirit

 

Lovam

Lovam

 

 

Share

FriendShip. The Extraordinary Story of One Family.

 

Why do we love traveling?

– Because the world is beautiful. It is not a big world, if you think about it. The Sun, which is not bigger than a shiny pancake in the sky, is about a million times bigger than our planet Earth, which makes our planet Earth as small as a pancake crumb! But, still, it’s a beautiful planet. So many amazing places to explore…

But that’s not all. We love traveling also because of the other people who love traveling. One of the best thing happening everywhere we go is meeting incredible folks and making new friends. We become magnets for people with similar interests, values, and worldviews. We form a tribe based on common dreams.

The very first day we arrived in Rio Dulce we met Daeli, Joni, Noial, Elan, Lovam, and Spirit, presently living and traveling aboard a 39-feet catamaran Solaris Sunstream named FriendShip. We became inseparable.

 

FriendShip in Lago Izabal

FriendShip in Lago Izabal

Their extraordinary story captivated us. It begins like this:

At the foot of a volcano a tall French guy met an American girl who was reading his favorite book: Papillon by Henri Charriere. They climbed the volcano together and kept going; never stopped.

We were in a town slowly getting swallowed by the Sahara desert. Today probably it doesn’t exist anymore, covered by sand, the last town before the desert. The last time it rained there was ten years ago. It’s one of the driest places in the world. That’s why they keep metal there, mountains of iron, it never corrodes. The people in this town are really tall. They wear white jilabas and blue turbans, completely covered from the head down. There was this doctor who let us sleep on top of his roof for three nights. He told us, ‘I think she is pregnant’. He was speaking good french. The morning we found out Joni was pregnant we smoked our last cigarettes and started down the road hitch-hiking. A car saw us and pulled over. There was a goat near the road but the driver didn’t see it and hit it. The goat was badly injured. „Don’t look the goat in the eye, Daeli said, an exchange of evil spirits might occur!“ Noial was born in 2003, the Year of the Goat, in Reunion Island, after we have been traveling for months around Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Mauritius.

 

Most of the time we would hitch-hike and camp out. But sometimes we would take the train. The trains in West Africa are tricky. People from the surrounding areas start arriving at the station days before the train and camp out for up to a week next to the railroad tracks waiting for the train to arrive. The whole thing turns into a huge party. Finally the train shows up, one of those iron trains: carts loaded with iron. That’s the heaviest train in the world. The passengers hop on top of the iron chunks and that’s how we traveled, on top of the iron. They even serve tea up there, pass it around to the people. After Noial was born we spent two years traveling around Reunion Island, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Comoros Islands, Kenya , and Ethiopia. Back in France we bought two bikes. The plan was to go around the world on bikes. We traveled for eight months around Europe as far north as Tromso in Norway (even to Svalbard). Then we went south to Tunisia. There we found out Joni was pregnant again. We couldn’t do a bike trip around the world with two babies and so we decided to get a sailboat instead.

 

We started looking for a sailboat while biking. We biked around Guadeloupe,  Martinique, and St Maarten where we finally found a boat. A 31-feet aluminum Brise-de-Mer named Josee. We knew nothing about sailing, we didn’t even know how to move the boom but we were so happy.

 

We enjoyed our boat and life at anchor, swimming and splashing around even though the anchorage was so dirty and polluted by the nearby boatyard. No one else was going in the water. Maybe that’s where I got the infection, I’m not sure. Elan was born in 2006 in St lucia with hypotonic cerebral palsy. In the beginning we were so worried. What is he gonna be like? Is he gonna walk? But then we realized there is no point worrying about those things and accepted his condition as part of our life.

 

We kept going. We sailed to Venezuela, Aruba Bonaire, Curacao, Colombia, and Panama and did land trips there. We travelled inland in Colombia and Venezuela for 4 months. Two years later, in 2008, Lovam was born in Guadeloupe.

 

We now had three small kids, one with PVL, but we never stopped traveling. I think it’s genetic. There is this theory about the nomadic gene. You either have it or you don’t. If you are born with it you start to get depressed if you stay in one place for too long, you can even get physical illnesses. I think both Daeli and me have the nomadic gene.

 

In 2011 we bought FriendShip, a 39- feet catamaran, as we needed more space.

 

In the beginning of their travels, in Africa, Europe and Latin America, Daeli and Joni didn’t record their journey as they didn’t have a photo camera. They were traveling mainly on foot, hitch-hiking and biking trying to keep it really light, getting their backpacks down to 7 kilograms each. They slept by the Alley of the Baobabs in Madagascar, and on top of Piton de la Fournaise volcano in Reunion, they camped at the edge of the Limestone Forest and Isalo Park with white lemurs in the trees around them. They sailed with the Vezo, semi-nomadic people on the west coast of Madagascar, on a small hand-carved pirogue. That is when they first got the taste for sailing. They were welcomed to pitch a tent in a Masai village in Kenya. They met the turkana people of lake Turkana, and visited the medieval town of Gondar in Ethiopia. They went on bike trips around France,Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany, and Sweden and later around USA with the three babies, four months camping out, never slept in a hotel. They biked the Olympic Peninsula and the coast of Oregon. They lived in Slab City for a while. Then they got an old 1986 van and did van trips in Canada, and from Canada down to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

 

I kept going to the United States in between trips to do therapies with Ilan. We tried everything:  all the traditional physical, speech and occupational therapies; we tried alternative ones: Craneosacral therapy, Conductive Education, the Feldenkrais Method. They were all really good but very expensive. My hope is that one day they will be covered by insurance.

 

People ask us how we finance our lifestyle. We work from time to time, but most importantly, we live really cheaply. We have no bills. We make handmade jewelry and sell it. When we work, we save up to buy the big things, like the boats and the van. Our most precious possessions are our experiences and memories.

 

The following pictures are from their later travels with the kids, when they got a camera.

Joni, pregnant, and Noial with bikes.

Joni and Noial with bikes.

 

Daily with in Slab City

Daely with Leonard Knight in Slab City

 

Lovam

Lovam riding Daeli’s bike

 

Noial climbing the mast

Noial climbing the mast

 

 

Ilan

Elan

 

Joni

Joni with Elan

Noial and Daily

Noial and Daeli

Daily and his super-bike (100kg)

Daeli and his super 100 kg bike

 

Camping out

Camping out

 

Noial in Slab City

Noial in Slab City

 

 

Joni with the kids

Joni with the kids

 

 

Joni with the kids in their dinghy, two days ago. Photo by Mira

Joni with the kids in their dinghy, two days ago. Photo by Mira

 

Share

Aquatic Protest of Powerlines in Rio Dulce

 

Rio Dulce Powerline Parade October 4, 2013

Rio Dulce Powerline Parade October 4, 2013

October 4, 2013.

Good morning Rio Dulce, Guatemala! It is a hot day today in the Rio hotter than usual. It is also a historical day.

We just came back from the first ever aquatic boat parade here in the Rio protesting against the construction of a new powerline over the river, a project by the TRESCA corporation to provide a enormous power supply to the El Estor mining operation.

 

Rio Dulce Powerline Parade October 4, 2013

Rio Dulce Powerline Parade October 4, 2013

 

El Estor Mine

El Estor mine is one of the largest nickel mines in Guatemala located in El Estor, Department of Lago Izaba, not far from Rio Dulce. The mine has a dark history. It all started in 1960 when a Canadian mining company Inco purchased the open pit nickel mine near El Estor. During the 36-year Civil War in Guatemala, the mining company cuts a corrupt deal with the military to provide „safe operations and security“. The result is somewhere between 3000 and 6000 innocent peasants killed in the region by the military whose chief of operations was nicknamed The Butcher of Zacapa. In 1970 he  is elected president of Guatemala, Colonel Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio. He promises that if necessary, he will “turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it“. Q’eqchi Mayan farmers are expelled from their land to make space for the mine and the construction of a town to house the miners. Public protest grows. The tension between miners and the local community rises. In the years to follow, murders, gang rapes, and more extraditions of Indigenous Mayans become regular incidents. After the end of the Civil War in 1996, new Peace Accords promise returning of historical Mayan land to the Mayans and restrictions of military and police forces. Still, the conflict in El Estor continue. In 2004 another Canadian company closely related to Inco purchases the mine without consulting the indigenous population. mayan Q’eqchi return to their lands only to be evicted by police again, without a court order. The eviction is accompanied by burning homes and gang rape of Mayan women. Today, the mining company is property of a Russian company, Solwey Investment Group, which bought it from the Canadian one in 2011 and the tensions continue. The same issues remain today: exploiting Mayan land and Guatemalan resources by foreign companies, evicting indigenous populations from their ancestral lands, clashes between miners and locals, between military and civilians.

 

 

*For more about the history of the mine read here, and  here, and watch the short documentary Violent Evictions at El Estor, Guatemala

 

Protest in Rio Dulce

 

Rio Dulce Powerline Parade October 4, 2013

Rio Dulce Powerline Parade October 4, 2013

 

Today about 50 boats of all kinds assembled under the bridge for the first time in the history of Rio Dulce  to protest peacefully against the construction of powerlines for the El Estor mine. Fata Morgana was in the middle of the boat-soup, along with other sailing and power boats, locals and from the international community,dinghies, lanchas and fishermen’s cayucos. The whole thing turned into a huge aquatic party-parade to the sound of „Johnny, la gente esta muy loca“ song.

 

Casa Guatemala Orphanage was represented!

Casa Guatemala Orphanage was represented!

Unfortunately, those opposing the project are doing it for the wrong reasons, it seems to me. It is not an opposition to the mining company and its operations in the region, nor it is in support of the local populations still suffering displacement, injustice, and oppression. The Rio Dulce boaters simply try to protect their beautiful view of the river and the Castillo de San Felipe from getting obstructed by powerlines. And the scariest part for the boaters is the possibility that the powerline clearance will be too low for some masts to pass under. Therefore, some proposed, let them build the lines under the river…

Mira holding a sign:  El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido.

Mira holding a sign:
El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido.

Share

Viktor’s Trip Achievement List. Difficulty Level/Points : 1-6

People ask How is Viktor doing? I usually answer: He mostly stays on the boat and plays video games. He is actually programming a video game. Whatever it is, I get pissed off. I wish he would stop being lazy, antisocial, and plugged all the time and gets out a bit more. He has been in denial about our boat trip and we have been fighting a lot, until today. He just announced he wants to learn everything there is about sailing and become a captain!

It is not easy for a 15-year-old guy leaving behind everything he knows: his home, school and friends, and being stuck on a tiny boat with his parents and a younger sister 24/7. It takes time to adjust to a new life at that age. He mostly misses his friends.  And they miss him too. Check out what his best friend Nikola did for him.

Viktor’s trip achievement list was inspired by video games and sent to him via e-mail by his best friend back in Montreal, Nicola Guekov.

Nick and Vick  in 2008

Nicola and Viktor
in 2008

1)My pet rock
Find a pet rock and name it rockio. : 1

2)Rockio heh
eat 100 tacos during your whole trip. : 1

3)Hooker daisy
Find a hooker named daisy and give her a high five. : 4

4)Lost relic
Find a necklace in public and bury it under the sand on a beach. : 2

5)Journey of a life time
Spend 1 whole year on the trip. : 1

6)Yucky green
eat some raw seaweed. : 1

7)Armory
Find a wild sword fish and touch it. : 2

8)Slippery hands
Touch 100 wild fish. : 2

9)Bigote mexicano
Find a Mexican and comb his moustache. : 5

10)Seafood express
In a seafood restaurant order 5 different meals and eat them,you may have a helper but the order must be yours. : 3

11)Wrinkled skin
On a beach go for a swim and stay in the water for at least 1 hour. : 2

12)Lazy pancy
On a beach stay on the sand and rest for at least 1 hour. : 2

13)You you’re ok, this one, REAL FUCKIN UGLY
Find a pare of black shades and wear them for 3 hours straight. : 1

14)Ivo dedication
Shave you’re head. : 3

15)Far far away
Sail fair enough to not see any land. : 2

16)Fuck you greg
Find a shiny male numel without a gameshark or hacks. : 5

17)Scared lips
Find a NON poisonous blow fish and kiss it. : 3

18)Collision
Hit a boat with your boat. : 4

19)Harpoon kid
Catch 5 fish with the harpoon gun. : 1

20)Harpoon wielder
Catch 25 fish with the harpoon gun. : 1

21)Harpoon hunter
Catch 50 fish with the harpoon gun. : 2

22)Harpoon god
Catch a whale with a harpoon gun. : 2

23)Spongebob?
Find a pineapple under the sea. : 4

24)Lost city
FIND THE CITY OF ATLANTIS. : 6

25)Library lurker
Read 5 books in a library. : 1

26)Space connection
Acquire internet for the boat. : 1

27)Player
Play online with nick from the boat. : 1

28)Zero motivation
Disagree with whatever your parents want you to do 5 times. : 3

29)Bulk up
During your trip workout enough to get muscles and keep them. : 2

30)The green past
Go back to being a vegetarian for 1 week. : 2

31)Endless hunger
During your trip for one day do not eat. : 2

32)Day of birth
During your trip reach the age of 16. : 1

33)Blogspot
Help your mother with a post on her blog : 1

34)Internet star
Do something crazy enough that’s worth mentioning in the blog. : 2

35)The kid on the block
Get acquainted with 5 new people. : 2

36)Magic destroyer
Beat someone you have met during your trip in MTG. : 2

37)Mini engineer
Help your father to fix the boat. : 1

38)Treasure hunter
Find something underwater that’s worth keeping. : 3

39)The alpha male
During your trip get a girlfriend. : 3

40)Viktorai tha PIMP
During your trip get 5 different girlfriends. : 5

41)Dirty Dee
During your trip do not shower for 1 full week. : 2

42)Spice searcher
Visit India and acquire some spices. : 5

43)Indian enemy
visit India and take a shit on ground in their land. : 6

44)World trader
While you are in the ocean trade something with another boat. : 3

45)Mind of an RPG
Create an RPG game. : 2

46)Bottle capzz
During your trip collect over 1000 bottle caps. : 5

47)The loner
Spend a night on the boat far away from land. : 2

48)Fears
Find a sea monster. : 6

49)Another killing on the dancefloor
Dance in a party that is hosted on a boat. : 4

50)Frozen tongue
During your trip eat at least 50 ice creams. : 3

51)Impenetrable defense
During your trip do not get sick. : 4

52)Ocean rodeo
During your trip find a seahorse and name it Horsilicok. : 3

53)Maya’s present
Fart in Maya’s face. : 1

54)The lie
Turn your boat into a spacecraft. : 6

55)Fancy Georgiev
During your trip on a day with your family eat breakfast,lunch and dinner in restaurants. : 3

56)For Pete’s sake
Sneak out from the boat at night and jump in the water when everyone is asleep. : 2

57)Shortcut
Dive under the boat from one side to another. : 1

58)Sand savior
Dive underwater and grab a handful of sand and bring it back to the surface. : 2

59)Did something touch my foot
At night in the boat watch at least 2 scary movies related to the sea and after go for a swim for at least 20 minutes. : 2

60)Nightlife
On the boat stay up all night and stay busy 5 times. : 2

61)Gamer
During your trip acquire 5 new different video games. : 1

62)Action movie
During your trip ride a jet ski alone. : 1

63)Serious air
During your trip somehow stay in the air for more than 10 minutes. : 2

64)Human jaws
Eat a shark. : 1

65)HM03
surf on the beach. : 1

66)Alien food
During your trip eat at least 100 sushis. : 2

67)The ancient stuff
During your trip watch all of the episodes of ancient aliens. : 5

68)Mineral boy
Find something made of gold or gold itself. : 3

69)Sea rover
Find a real life pirate. : 2

70)Sea rover +
Find a pirate with an eye patch. : 3

71)Stranded fellow
Find a person who is stranded on an island. : 4

72)Wishes
Find a genie lamp and wish for an infinity supply of sesame seeds. : 6

73)Unforgettable Vacation
Spend 2 years on the trip. : 2

74)Hawaiian style
Attend a hawaiian themed party and ruin the party by taking a diarrhea dump on the dance floor or if there is no dance floor on a table. : 4

75)My friend the ocean
During your trip never get sea sick. : 3

76)Yellow assassin
While in the water take a full piss next to someone without being caught. : 3

77)Green assassin
While in the water puke behind someone without being caught. : 4

78)Brown assassin
While in the water draw something on a piece of paper with a brown crayon without being caught. : 2

79)Naked assault
While in the water remove your swimming trunks and go super close to someone. : 5

80)World traveler
By boat visit 20 different docks. : 4

81)Aquatic lungs
Hold your breath underwater for at least 4:31 minutes. : 3

82)My own way
While all your family members are in the water go take a shower. : 1

83)Towel saboteur
While in the water with 3 or more people sneak out and throw their towels in the water without being noticed. : 4

84)Swamp crook
Visit 5 different swamps. : 4

85)Jungle boy
Jump in a lake by swinging from a rope/vine etc.. : 3

86)L.O.S.T
Find a bottle with a message in it in the ocean. : 4

87)Medical boat
Out in the ocean find a boat with a injured passenger and help them feel better. : 4

88)Life saver
Help someone who is drowning survive. : 3

89)HAHAHA
While on the boat push Maya in the water without her knowing that you will. : 2

90)Midnight swim
At night swim 50 Meters away from the boat. : 2

91)Shits ahoy captain
Pilot the boat without your dad’s permission. : 2

92)Water game genie
Flawlessly win a game of marco polo by never becoming „it“. : 1

93)Addicted
Spend 3 years on the trip. : 4

94)Day of birth 2
Reach the age of 17 on the trip. : 2

95)One for the price of two
While fishing catch 2 fish with the same hook before reeling in. : 4

96)While he was riding his bike there was a lightning strike and now he reads real fast he’s good at science and math
During your trip visit a black doctor. : 2

97)Midshipman
During your trip find a sailor with white hair and a pipe in his mouth that like fish sticks. : 3

98)Ocean lover
By boat visit the pacific and atlantic ocean. : 4

99)False nick
During your whole trip do not encounter any inconveniences. : 5

100)Oh and before i leave…
End your trip by coming back to Canada. : 7

*We will be posting regularly and updating Viktor’s achievements and score.

Nick  2008

Nick
2008

Share