Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Santa Cruz Proper

Last Wednesday morning Katie and Brandon went up to the village to attend a funeral.  Charlie was with his sitter for the morning. So later,I walked to the Santa Cruz docks, hired a Tuk - Tuk and rode the steep switchback climb up to the town square. And made my way to Amigos. A vocational school, supported by ex-pats, to help create financial opportunities for the Mayan youth.  Talking with Auga and Hella upstairs (who are active supporters) the effort has also been the catalyst for measurable growth of Spanish language literacy among Santa Cruz Mayan population.  The school has programs in culinary arts / hospitality, sewing, carpentry, bicycle repair and there's talk of launching a program for digital technologies.  At the top level of building the culinary school has an open air restaurant.  Finding my way up, I met Katie, Eryne and Hugo. We were soon joined by Matthew, Nancy, Chris and Brandon.  We all enjoyed a nice lunch, great conversation and a spectacular view.

The Iguana Hotel Restaurant / Bar Overlooking Santa Cruz Docks

Docks Seen from Iguana

The Weekly Market at the Docks

These were Taken in Pana - Fine Example of a Tuk-Tuk
On the Santa Cruz Road the Three Wheel Set Up Gives the Trip a Carnival Ride Feel!

Hugo surveying the village of Santa Cruz above the restaurant

View of Santa Cruz above the school / restaurant

Looking down from the restaurant.  Part of the switchback road down to the docks.
Going up - fun. Down - thrilling!

The usual suspects at lunch

Views from the Tuk-Tuk on the way down.
As a result of this trip, I learned how many (but unfortunately not all) local ex-pats take their responsibility as citizens of this community to heart.  Change is always slow.  But they have and clearly intend to persevere in their support and investments to help the Maya improve their community and lives.  With all the divisive bullshit happening in the "developed" world.  This experience makes one wonder where the truly developed people really are.  I think more likely - it's here.

Perseverance and generosity for the good of humanity.  Lessons to be learned.


Monday, January 1, 2018

The Lake Atitlan Super-Highway

In this one I'll try to give a sense of the main means of get around here.  I mentioned in the previous post that, at most points on the lake, the land rises (what feels like) immediately straight up from the water.  The shoreline below Santa Cruz, which includes the Norwegian Wood area, is where the bottom of a canyon - perhaps more a ravine - meets the shore.  As a result the immediate topography is sort of flat and less steep along this stretch of shore. This is where most ex-pats and snow birds around Santa Cruz have built.  The village of Santa Cruz itself sits high atop the inland end of the canyon. Katie surmises the indigenous folks knowing that over the centuries the lake level goes up and down considerably. She believes, being more in-tune with their environment,  the Mayans established themselves above the historic high water line ;-}.  Hopefully, via my description of the lay of the land,  you're able to envision how the topography along this section of shore affords space for a foot path along it.  Walking the path, I 'd guess it runs a couple miles.  All the paths here seem to be the responsibility of the landowners across who's lands the paths traverse.  I'm told, there's also situations when folks join together for major path maintenance projects.  This ad-hoc approach to civil project management - coupled with the varied terrain along the shore - creates a patchwork of styles, quality and maintenance of the area's footpaths.  If one has, or your destination is near, a dock you could hire a private boat to get you from point a to b. But, most use the path.  It can be an experience - for sure! Good shoes and sure footedness helps.  Brandon walks these paths in his flip-flops!  Must be some mountain goat in his blood ;-}.

Here's a collection of images showing the variety of path surfaces the pedestrian "enjoys".

The simple dirt path
Stairs are always fun

This is on the approach to a narrow board walk that runs along (neighbor) Larry's seawall

Entering the boardwalk.
At the far end you see one side of Larry's waterside palapa - site of a notorious past New Years Eve party.
Follow the waterline
Here the path is dug out to allow one to pass beneath a dock.
Being taller than the average local; ex-pats and visitors from the North need watch their heads!
The approach to another boardwalk

Stay on the straight and narrow ;-}
Almost there
Step up
Step down - careful!

That's about a 10 foot drop.
This large opening - heavy gage chicken wire is used commonly to keep rocks in place

Careful of that center board. Well....actually their all kinda loose.
Nails are popping up everywhere on the boardwalks and docks. Makes me want to take a hammer everywhere I go.  I mentioned to Brandon perhaps screws would be the better choice of fastener.  He chuckled - "Screws are expensive.  They'd likely be repurposed."   Guess that's the way of a developing nation.

Til next time,
Tread carefully.  But - always Onward!