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Mayan leaders fight bill privatizing archaeological sites

‘They are not “pre-Hispanic ruins;” they are living sacred sites’ and ceremonial centers, says Mayan daykeeper

Archaeologists, anthropologists and members of the indigenous communities of Guatemala are making an appeal to the Guatemalan government to reject a controversial bill affecting the administration of the country’s archaeological sites. Law 5923, called “Rescue of Pre-Hispanic Heritage,” has been proposed as a matter of national urgency both by the Ministry of Culture and Sports […]

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Migrant ‘Protection’ Protocols Survivor Stories #4: Enrique

His resilience, leadership and loyalty make him an asset to any nation, yet all Trump & Co could see was Brown

The brothers were ambushed on the Ides of March 2019. It happened as they walked toward their childhood home in Quetzaltenango. Guatemala’s second-largest city, boasting a rich Mayan heritage and a dramatic natural backdrop, Xela (as it’s known to locals) is where I went to buy presents for my host family when I lived in […]

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Giving Thanks, Making Peace

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Thanksgiving day – I awoke this morning far from home and family but filled with a profound sense of gratitude. Grateful for the sun that was just beginning to brighten the sky outside my window; grateful for the dear friends who have given me a home in this city of cities. […]

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At home with a Mayan permaculturist

By Tracy L. Barnett San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala – Rony Lec is roasting coffee beans on a clay comal when I arrive, stirring patiently as the smoke rises. He grew the coffee out back, and every step of the process, like many of his processes, is his own. We’re seated at his kitchen table now, […]

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The river will find a way: Voices of the victims

SAN LUCAS TOLIMAN – I arrived at the home of Rony Lec of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) at 9 a.m. and found him meeting with a group of young men from Ajpu, a local youth group. The post-storm response of the government was slow and disorganized, I had heard from various people around town, […]

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First the ashes, then Agatha - then the gifts from heaven

PANAJACHEL, Guatemala – For three days I’ve been traveling the villages of Lake Atitlan, watching the slow shift from disaster to windfall. On Saturday, we stood together in Marvilla’s kitchen at Posada Dos Volcanes in San Lucas Toliman, one of the mostly Mayan villages that ring this lake, watching in disbelief as the mountain began […]

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Rain of ashes in Guatemala

PANAJACHEL, Guatemala – Atitlan, the sparkling lake of legends and lore, glistens a slatey grey today. Clouds drape the mountaintops on all sides; boats are making their way across, one by one, taking their places at the rickety wooden docks where they will soon be ferrying people to villages across the water. “It’s a sad […]

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Conquering Tajumulco: Me and the volcano

XELA, Guatemala – At 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, eight sleepy people from five different countries showed up at Casa Argentina, bracing themselves for the adventure ahead: a two-day trek up Volcan Tajumulco, the highest point in Central America. I was among them. The three volunteer guides from Quetzaltrekkers were going over the final details. Yesterday […]

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A Mother's Day greeting from the Racoons

Mother’s Day is celebrated here in Guatemala on the 10th of May, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. So today was the big day – and I do mean big. It began at 6:30 am with a mobile loudspeaker blasting an upbeat blessing from the streets, mañanitas-style. That was followed by […]

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A Mother's Day thanks to Guatemalan world changers

QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala – I awoke this sparkling Mother’s Day to the sight of the Santa Maria volcano from my rooftop, rising green and conical over the mountains that surround this charming city in the highlands. Quetzaltenango, known to Guatemalans by its indigenous name, Xela, is quite literally a breath of fresh air. The slap-slap-slap of […]

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Hotel Ajau: A green deal in Guatemala City

GUATEMALA CITY – I have spent the past week making contacts, getting the lay of the land and working on freelance stories, and I couldn’t have found a better home-away-from-home here in the capital city than Hotel Ajau. I’ll admit I chose it because I read in Rough Guides that it offered a good price, […]

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Masa Critica takes to the streets in Guatemala City

GUATEMALA CITY – Between the black smoke-belching chicken buses and the mass of cars that congest the streets of Central America’s largest capital, it’s hard to imagine a bicycle, much less a mass of them. With one of the highest crime rates in Latin America, it’s not a place I was planning to explore on […]

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Boats, buses and banana plantations

It’s hard to believe it was just two days ago I awoke at 2:30 a.m., had one last coffee with my new friend Homero (host of a highly recommended casa particular, more info below), and headed for the Havana airport. The trip to Belize would be a long and grueling one – there are no […]

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