A lot has happened since my last yak and the internet hasn’t been overly conducive but we are back at Lake Atitlan with (intermittent) wifi and so here’s an update from Guatemala.
After a somewhat eye-opening and profound experience in San Juan Cotzal, we again boarded a bus and journeyed through some magnificent highland country and arrived at the Chico Mendez reforestation project in Pachac, just outside of Quetzaltenango (Xela).
This also marked the middle of our course and so the next morning, we headed in to Xela for a day of interviews, feedback surveys, yaks, scavenger hunts and some food more like what we’re used to back home.
On Sunday morning, we went to work. But first things first, there was a rather important football (soccer for some) match that we were pretty much all very keen to watch. By coincidence, there just happened to be 20 French students also at Chico Mendez.
Our mostly Croatian supporting group watched some very quiet and nervous French students finally get excited as the game swang their way in the second half and they became World Champions.
And then it was time to get our hands dirty. Armando, the director of the project, first explained to us the necessity for reforestation, not only here in Guatemala but everywhere and he told us about other problems that the local population faced associated with local mines and a lack of biodiversity.
He then showed us the first stage of tree planting. We were given sieves and in teams of 3 or 4, we sifted the rocks from the soil. We worked up a sweat and created quite a mound of earth whilst gaining an appreciation of how hard locals work.
On the morning of the second day, we gained even more insight as we actually planted trees. Holes were dug with mattocks and saplings were lovingly placed into them. In the afternoon, we filled little plastic bags with soil for the seeds to grow and thus appreciate another important stage of the tree planting process.
Now that we learnt all about reforestation, it was time to prepare for the next stage of our Guatemalan journey, a 2 and a half day hike from Xela to Lago Atitlan. But that is a the subject of my next yak.