At the Crux of Environmental and Cultural Preservation: The Tale of a Mayan Village, Part 1


| 8/3/2018 9:11:00 AM


 

Lake Atitlan view. Photo by Atitlan Organics

This is Part 1 of a four-part series. Part 2 looks at these issues and ideas from the locals’ perspective, and explore more ways that for-profit is better suited to do non-profit work

It’s early morning in Tzununa, Guatemala — a small Mayan village nestled in a valley on the scenic shores of Lake Atitlan. At this early hour, fishermen in handmade canoes have been engaged for a few hours. Some cast line by hand, others check traps buoyed by plastic bottles, some lob handmade nets.

The rising sun colors the eastern horizon an entrancing orange that begins to illuminate a purple sky. Three inactive volcanoes on the lake’s shoreline catch this early light and emerge from darkness to cast their reflections upon the surface. Venus is the last star to fade, leaving the moon alone in the sky. More and more species of birds wake and join a growing chorus.

The lake is placid, the scene ancient. An observer a thousand years ago would have witnessed the same. But in an instant, the morning stillness breaks. The whine of an engine is heard in the distance and grows in volume until it is the dominant sound. The flat lake surface gives way to the lancha boat’s wake. The modern world has awoken.



It’s 6am. The bustle begins. Lanchas with outboard motors will cross the seven-by-eleven-mile waters as long as daylight remains, picking up locals and tourists and dropping them off at various village docks around the lake. At the docks, tuk-tuk drivers in their motorized rickshaws will jockey for positions and compete with good-natured smiles for the $1 fee to carry people and cargo further inland.



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