Guatemala 2013

Countryside

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini

 

Guatemala owes much of its beauty to the 37 volcanoes that are part of the Ring of Fire around the Pacific.  Several are over 13,000 feet high and most are dormant.  The Volcán de Agua is an impressive backdrop to Antigúa and the Volcán de Fuego is active near Guatemala City.  Hiking up volcanoes is popular in ecotourism.

Tectonically, the volcanoes were formed by the subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the Caribbean Plate.

Lake Atitlán fills a volcanic caldera that formed 84,000 years ago.  It is known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world; according to the Maya, it is “the place where the rainbow gets its colors”.  People from all around the world build homes on its shores.  The lake has no outlet.

The rainforest covers much of the country.  Its exuberant growth makes it the home to many animals, including monkeys, parrots and toucans.  The forest has been cleared for thousands of years for agriculture and the net effect of this on the environment is unknown.  Several biosphere reserves have been established.

The pyramid to the left shows a couple of months’ rainforest growth. 

The countryside is home to many people with different ways of life.  There are small villages and farming and ranching are prevalent even under the most difficult conditions.

Evangelical churches are growing in the countryside where people are most affected by poverty and need.  Some say the Catholic church is loosing its influence because it is often identified with the oppressive central government.  There is concern that fundamentalist missionaries are undermining the Maya culture.

The river then flows through a 10 mile long lake, El Golfete, towards the Caribbean.  The lake is a natural anchorage with a few houses and many birds.

The fort, Castillo de San Felipe, is at the entrance of the Río Dulce where it flows from Lake Izabel in southeast Guatemala.  It was built by the Spanish to help defend the area against pirates in 1644.  The river flows east under one of the biggest bridges in Central America and through a stretch with several marinas and resorts.

After going through a gorge, the river comes to Livingston, a garifuna town.  The Río Dulce is their only “road”.

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