Friday, November 27, 2009

Ceremonia Maya en La Hacienda Tijax

Nos Complace anunciar este evento que estamos realizando la "Familia" de amigos de Tijax. Se realizara en la hacienda del 11 al 13 de Diciembre con la presencia de Calixta Gabriel, amiga, guia espiritual, ex-compañera de trabajo y Aj Kiij.  Para mayor informacion pueden visitar el sitio sitio web Ecorio y en Ingles el Chismevindicaror .  Para informacion sobre trasporte y tours al area favor contactar a Nineth, Lorena o Rigo en , para reservaciones de habitaciones entrar directo al sitio web de Hacienda Tijax

Calixta ha publicado recientemente un libro sobre la "Cosmovision Maya y la mujeres: aportes desde el punto de vista desde una Aj Kiij".  Esperamos tener unas copias de este interesante llibro a la venta. Asimismo Don Nicolas estara explicando  la mecanica del funcioamiento del Calendario Maya.

Para ver un articulo acerca del Libro de Calixta Gabriel les recomiendo este enlace en Articulo Calixta Gabriel

Saturday, November 7, 2009

tijaxblog: Waterfall

tijaxblog: Waterfall


Everytime a see a nice waterfall I remember the Hendrix song:

(Con su permiso Maestro)..

Nothing can harm me at all
My worries seem so very small
With my waterfall

I can see
My rainbow calling me
Through the misty breeze
Of my waterfall

Some people say
Daydreaming's for all the
Lazy minded fools
With nothin' else to do
So let them laugh, laugh at me
So just as long as I have you
To see me through
As long as I have you

Don't ever change your ways
Fall with me for a million days
Oh, my waterfall

Cerro San Gil Reserve Tour

If you are sitting around your boat in a Marina wondering what to do while the weather improves or likewise sitting around your Hotel wondering what to do in terms of sightseeing and light adventure my advise is: "Take a Hike" !!

After the Birdwatching event "Aves Coloridas del Caribe" held at Hacienda Tijax on the last weekend of October (23rd, 24th and 25th of October 2009) one of the "post tours" offered was the guided tour to the San Gil nature reserve organized by Social Tours (Esvin chacon) and the FUNDAECO NGO that is responsible for the management of this vast reserve along with he Government institution in charge of all reserves in Guatemala: CONAP.

I signed up for the tour along with wife Monica my son Andres and another couple from El Salvador Clemente and Florita that also own some land near the "Trifinio" reserve on the border with Honduras and El Salvador.
We started out early at the crack of dawn in order to be there by 07:00 hrs. We could have left even earlier for the birdwatching but we were mostly interested in the hike and for me personally to revisit the area after at least 7 or 8 years of absence. It is in this area of San Gil that the "bird banding" is carried out by ornithologists every year to monitor the passing of the migratory birds and the increase or decrease in populations, etc. However this is done in early October so we did not expect too many birds.

From the Rio Dulce one drives south towards Morales and turns off at the "San Marcos" turn to the left, then on to a dirt road which is well maintained as it serves several Fincas and villages, San Marcos, El Milagro, Los Angeles.. After endless rubber plantations and the villages one starts climbing the foothills of San Gil. with views like this to the south: Incredible!! really the only way to see the whole Izabal Basin! We kept on climbing as the feeling of remoteness sets in, fewer houses, more trees and the last few farms as we approached the end of the "Agricultural Frontier" After a few more turns and there it is: San Gil!! There is a small valley which runs north to south draining the "Carbonera" river to the north, into the Golfete. We had to leave the 4x4 at that point and keep on going by foot, fortunately our guides provided rubber boots of all sizes for the fording of said Carbonera River where once upon the time Coal used to be mined according to our guide Obdulio. The view of San Gil from the south is splendid just before the sun broke through the clouds..
Immediately after crossing the river one starts climbing a steep hill that equals climbing all of Tikals pyramids one after the other, really not for the faint of heart, right about the time when I was remembering my cardiologist's warnings about smoking, being over 50 and wearing my tongue as a Tye the hill flattens out and there in the middle of the Jungle is the "Estacion Cientifica" a combination of two buildings; one for lodging campers and another for various services including toilets, an eating area, a kitchen and some hammocks. The architecture of the stone "lodge" is kind of interesting and blend in well with the surrounding, the other strange yet charming in a way as it surprises one to see such a building there, too bad for the Institutional "green" but what else could one expect from and "environmental" NGO.

We were shown around by the friendly staff, drank water, heard the "Chicharras" had a nice breakfast of beans and tortillas but were eager to go on further into the Jungle. Off we went again thinking about the endless amounts energy a four year hold is capable of expending on the average day. At the same time we were surrounded by a myriad sounds including the kid chattering away like the "chicharras" asking what's this and why is that. I almost wished we had left him home but he was having a great time and what better way to get them acquainted with nature from a young age? The trails started to go up and down severely steep slopes but then again steep for me at 57, little Andy did not seem to mind getting a little help from Mom or Obdulio our guide who would perk his ears up and point well yes pretty much like a "Pointer" as we could not really see the birds in the high canopy of a truly "Primary Rain Forest". I confess my ignorance as an amateur birdwatcher as at one point we actually did see a small bird, gray brown with stripes and his female companion with simpler colorings, they did not seem afraid of us and hung around for a while. I got to use my binoculars and Obdulio was very exited about having sighted these two. Hummingbirds are common also. The trails are dotted with interesting things like mushrooms growing out of rotten logs and pretty flowers. Gorgeous views of the Rain forest everywhere, more ups and downs and then finally to our destination: the crystal clear pool and a well deserved dip in the chilly waters.

The water is soo cold we actually stopped sweating and got cold! Perfectly timed, this is also the point where the return starts. The Photo opportunities are excellent, the small cascade is paradisaical and the surround rock formations seem to have been designed and adorned by a Japanese gardener. We took time to recharge our batteries so to speak although little Andy did not seem to have his discharged at all. We chatted with Clemente and Florita who told us about their beautiful place in El Salvador and how it was on a higher elevation so they are in the "Cloud Forest". Got to know the guides better and they told us stories about a "detox" facility that operated there during the times of the Generals and how attendants were helicoptered in and out. I know this to be true as I met one of the inmates after a successful escape. they used to take their shoes away so they could not walk too far into the forest. Somehow he got a pair from a sleeping guard or something and was able to make it down the mountain and catch a cayuco ride to the Catamaran Hotel where he proceeded to get properly plastered on the delicious Margaritas sold there. A book was written inspired on these stories called "Carcel de Arboles" (Jail of Trees) by the well know Guatemalan novelist Rodrigo Rey Rosa.

We were also told about the trails that goes on for eleven hours more from our point and reaches the North side of San Gil where you can see the Caribbean and Puerto Barrios if anyone is so inclined to do so serious hiking I bet it would really be a nice trip.

The return was uneventful and still very interesting we gave rides to the guides to their villages and were told that only eight families live nearby and they take care of the facilities under the supervision of FUNDAECO.

I highly recommend the trip but it also is not the sort of thing you should do alone or without making the necessary arrangements with the Institutions in charge so that you can get food, water, a proper guide and a vehicle to get in and out in time. The best season is from October to May as later it probably gets too wet and rainy and the creeks will run fast and full. If anyone is interested they can contact Esvin at Social Travel in Puerto Barrios, phone (502) 51983654 or me and I will most likely refer you to Esvin anyways. He did a great job at organizing our trip. Everything from rubber boots to transportation, guides, food was timely and adequate. We got home at a decent time for a Sunday lunch at home and a long nap. Little Andy slept soundly that night and just that was worth the effort we finally got him tired!! Ha.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Luna Llena....

,,,de expectativas, como se llamara, como sera su futuro en estos tiempos, su caracter, su fortuna en fin su vida. que Dios lo acompañe en todo momento. Les deseo a la Mama, Papa al bebe y su hermanita Naia, mucho amor....

La Luna esta en Tauro..Harrrumphh

Otra fotaza, ver las nubecillas como que se la quieren comer..

Y El Ganador es: Maynor Ovando...

Aqui les van los tres fotos ganadoras, Esvin ayudeme porfa con los nombres de los autores y las aves....

Primer Lugar:

Segundo Lugar:

Tercer Lugar:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Aves Coloridas del Caribe 2009

El evento ya paso y la lista de personas que tendria que agradecer es casi tan larga como la lista de aves asi que Uds. ya saben quienes son mucha! Muchas Gracias!!! A mi juicio el evento, siendo el primero de su indole, fue todo un éxito y eso pues el merito le va a Esvin Chacon de Social Travel por su empeño en sacar esto adelante. Adjunto y abajo van unas fotos y el credito de ello va a Maynor Ovando que nos acompaño y asesoro durante el evento. Aqui la lista de Aves elaborada por Maynor y el equipo en general:

Localidad: Hacienda Tijax
Fecha de Observación: 24/10/09
Notas: Listado consolidado de las especies observadas durante el 1er. Encuentro Regional de Observación de aves en Hacienda Tijax.
Numero de las especies: 72

Plain Chachalaca - Ortalis vetula X
Neotropic Cormorant - Phalacrocorax brasilianus X
Magnificent Frigatebird - Fregata magnificens X
Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis X
Black Vulture - Coragyps atratus X
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura X
Ruddy Crake - Laterallus ruber X
Ruddy Ground-Dove - Columbina talpacoti X
Olive-throated Parakeet - Aratinga nana X
Red-lored Parrot - Amazona autumnalis X
Squirrel Cuckoo - Piaya cayana X
Groove-billed Ani - Crotophaga sulcirostris X
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl - Glaucidium brasilianum X
Common Pauraque - Nyctidromus albicollis X
White-collared Swift - Streptoprocne zonaris X
Stripe-throated Hermit - Phaethornis striigularis X
Violet Sabrewing - Campylopterus hemileucurus X
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird - Amazilia tzacatl X
Black-headed Trogon - Trogon melanocephalus X
Ringed Kingfisher - Megaceryle torquata X
Golden-fronted Woodpecker - Melanerpes aurifrons X
Lineated Woodpecker - Dryocopus lineatus X
Ruddy Woodcreeper - Dendrocincla homochroa X
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper - Xiphorhynchus flavigaster X
Barred Antshrike - Thamnophilus doliatus X
Tropical Pewee - Contopus cinereus X
Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimus X
Dusky-capped Flycatcher - Myiarchus tuberculifer X
Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus X
Boat-billed Flycatcher - Megarynchus pitangua X
Social Flycatcher - Myiozetetes similis X
Tropical Kingbird - Tyrannus melancholicus X
Western Kingbird - Tyrannus verticalis X
Masked Tityra - Tityra semifasciata X
Black-crowned Tityra - Tityra inquisitor X
Bell's Vireo - Vireo bellii X
Lesser Greenlet - Hylophilus decurtatus X
Brown Jay - Cyanocorax morio X
Mangrove Swallow - Tachycineta albilinea X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Stelgidopteryx serripennis X
Spot-breasted Wren - Thryothorus maculipectus X
House Wren (Southern) - Troglodytes aedon [musculus Group] X
Swainson's Thrush - Catharus ustulatus X
Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina X
Clay-colored Thrush - Turdus grayi X
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis X
Yellow Warbler - Dendroica petechia X
Magnolia Warbler - Dendroica magnolia X
Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia X
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla X
Worm-eating Warbler - Helmitheros vermivorum X
Ovenbird - Seiurus aurocapilla X
Louisiana Waterthrush - Seiurus motacilla X
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat - Geothlypis poliocephala X
Hooded Warbler - Wilsonia citrina X
Wilson's Warbler - Wilsonia pusilla X
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager - Habia rubica X
Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra X
Blue-gray Tanager - Thraupis episcopus X
Yellow-winged Tanager - Thraupis abbas X
Blue-black Grassquit - Volatinia jacarina X
Variable Seedeater - Sporophila corvina X
White-collared Seedeater - Sporophila torqueola X
Yellow-faced Grassquit - Tiaris olivaceus X
Black-headed Saltator - Saltator atriceps X
Melodious Blackbird - Dives dives X
Great-tailed Grackle - Quiscalus mexicanus X
Black-cowled Oriole - Icterus prosthemelas X
Orchard Oriole - Icterus spurius X
Altamira Oriole - Icterus gularis X
Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbula X
Yellow-throated Euphonia - Euphonia hirundinacea X

Este reporte fue generado automáticamente por eBird versión (

Joana & Chiltepe

This upcoming December will be my 2oth anniversary of starting the Hacienda Tijax project. I may write something about this separately, however I must say that when I arrived I had dreams and expectations that were brewed some twenty years earlier to the tunes of Jimmy Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Moody Blues and books like Carlos Castañedas don Juan series, Whole Earth Catalog, Woods hole "Stewardship of the Earth" and more such pre-new age stuff.

I was also escaping a crumbling reality of too much of everything and city life and a totally unmanageable life so I wanted to get "back to the roots" or at least recover the thread of my earlier vision. Ive written some of this in the "vision" dept.

The point here is that in this "Vision" I wanted to create a place or a space intrinsically different from the standard version of a western biz-hotel-farm. I wanted it to be eco-friendly, interactive, self sustaining and so on. Some of these goals have partially been achieved and some not. but this story is not about me nor Tijax but rather about Joana and Chiltepe. Somehow at times the "vision" becomes fuzzy and blured and I forget what exactly it is I'm doing here. during the twenty years I've been here I have seen some 200,000 visitors at tijax and to my dismay, the vast majority simply cruise on by looking for the next cheap beer or some other rather mundane amenity.

Joana and family was crew on "Migo" a 40+ fibergalss, well appointed sloop on what seemed to me an extended voyage, perhaps around the world.. who knows? At any rate Joana soon discovered that we had horses here at Tijax and with another girlfriend approached me about "working with the horses" request. I probably cringed as I have had good and bad experiences with volunteers but mostly because of the resposability of having two young good looking teen age girls prancing around the farm and forest, exposed to all kinds of risks like snakes, insects, local "macho" types and goofy tourists.

After a trip home Joana returned more determined, in the meantime I thought really I should give this girl the chance to live out her dream, being one of the "original" aspects of my "vision" to have an open place and allow people to learn and interact with nature. We have a nice young stallion called "Chiltepe" because of his fiery disposition that no one of my cowboys had dared nor succeeded in training much less mounting.

Joana was adamant and she brought some equipment and got some ropes from the stables. with the help of some oat concentrate she was able to befriend the beast and daily spent hours with Chiltepe in the pastures just getting acquainted. I would zip by on my Honda and get glimpses of her patiently cleaning and dressing the horse with the apparels.

After a month or so of this she had the Horse on a tether and was walking him to and from the stables and had cut off the sweet oats. A few weeks went by and one or two episodes where my cowboys reported the horse had acted up, well, in a beastly fashion rearing up and trying to throw off the saddle while nearly kicking Joana (I wonder if her parents know this) she was able to get on the horse and stay on!! She would report to me occasionally as I'm usually too busy but I did notice from her smile that there was progress being made.

Finally "Success"!! she was riding regularly with the other horses and therefore the mission had been accomplished. A day or two before she left I saw her riding along witht he rest of the Horses on one of our regular "tours" She looked extremely good and secure on Chiltepe, so congratulations!! Joana and Chiltepe and mostly a Big "thank you" for reminding me why I wanted to do this in the first place. Wherever you go next I wish you and your lovely family all the best and I'm sure someone with your character and personality will certainly succeed in Life.

Tijax 31st of Oct. 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Y Mas Aves...

Aqui se ve la espiral de los "Azacuanes" muy bien..

A los que nos critican porque no somos "Ecologicos" aqui esta su respueta: traten de ver esto desde su hotelucho barato......

Mas Aves...

El avistamiento de aves para los que vivimos aqui es cuestion de todos los dias, esta foto es un nido de Colibries que se instalo un mangral al lado del muelle en la Hacienda Tijax.

Evento Aves del Caribe Verde..

Estamos organizando un lindo evento para todos los interesados en aves, fotografia de aves, o solo aprender al respecto y caminar en los senderos, para mayor informacion visitar los sitios web o

Paso de los Azacuanes Tijax 2009

Sali a darle comida al perro hoy las 8:00 a.m. y esto estaba pasando en el cielo arriba de la casa...
Siempre el paso de los Azacuanes es una Epifania, marca las estaciones, el Otoño en este caso y la aproximación del fin del año. Viene los cambios en el ciclo agrícola, terminan las tormentas tropicales e inician los nortes con su viento frío, cielos azules como solo en Guatemala los tenemos, Lunas de uña y lunas llenas que alumbran de noche encendiendo en toda cosa viva la luz interior.

Los niños salen con sus barriletes a la calle y el olor a leña donde cuecen tamales invade los barrios de los pueblos y aldeas.

Es una epoca linda..Hoy tambien es 13 Keme presagia la Muerte anuncia ambos el bien y el mal porque todo fin es nuevo principio.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Angel del Amanecer se despide...

Foto tomada desde la veranda de la Hacienda, me parecio ver en la nube una forma de "Angel" que me saludaba con la mano.. adios... La montaña al fondo es Cerro San Gil. Hacer click en imagen para ver tamaño completo.


Monday, July 13, 2009

"Cadejo", Roberto Ossaye (1927-1954)

Sin comentarios....

Ver nota biográfica por Lucrecia Méndez de Penedo en:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why I love it here II

Later that same day I'm returning from the farm on foot as I left the tractor in the shade and decided to hike for some extra exercise. As I walk past the tractor shed I remember I left some tools on the dashboard of the little Ford, as I picked up the tool from the dash I felt someone watching me.....

Why I Love it here, one of several reasons.

It's 5:30 a.m. the sun is lighting the San Gil area with gilded edges on the few clouds that cover the mountain. Pretty soon the Hummingbirds start their morning routine of baths and flower pecking. First I see these hummingbirds grooming their feathers and shaking the dews drops from the bougainvillea:

Then this guy decides to take a bath on the salmon-orange bloooms of the bouganvillea:

Just a few minutes later we're visited by the Chachalacas (Ortalis vetula) the smaller member of the "Crassidae" family (Turkeys) that live right here in the Jungle. If you turn up the volume you'll see why they are called "chachalakas"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flowering Trees of Izabal

I read somewhere, I think it was "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins that flowering trees in bloom are in fact "having sex" most trees are hermaphroditic and can successfully have sex by themselves and reproduce usually with the help of insects for fertilization of the ova with pollen, all conveniently placed in the flower. Trees in bloom therefore are having the vegetable equivalent of an orgasm and it can be quite impressive for the observer of things natural.

Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish Navigator and explorer was the first westerner to sail around the coast of Florida and on April 2nd 1513 after crossing open waters from what is believed to be the Abacos he sighted land (thinking it was another Island) and called it La Florida after the lush verdant shores and I bet the flowering trees, also being Catholics, Spaniards celebrated the Easter season called Pascua Florida after the Judeo-Christian tradition of celebrating passover with palms and flowers.

So much for history, the fact remains that every year around Easter the Caribbean goes into bloom from Florida all the way to the Orinoco and probably all of tropical South America. In Guatemala alone there are 38 species of Leguminous trees (Basically large bean plants) that produce very pretty flowers and which then turn into pods with bean like seeds inside. Some commonly known legume trees in the west are: Acacias, Mimosas, the Flamboyant, Guayacan, Guanacaste, Guapinol, and yes even Rosewood is a Legume. In fact leguminous trees fix their own nitrogen in the soil thanks to a symbiotic relation with aerobic bacteria which create nodules on the roots of trees and there fix Nitrogen which naturally only exists in the atmosphere as a gas. It eventually gets released into the soil in the form of ammonium nitrates by the decaying bacteria or nitrites by animals though urine, hence the smell of ammonia in rich soils and compost. Leguminous trees are thus well fertilized and often produce oily hard woods which are appreciated the world over as precious and constitute one of many Guatemalan's contributions to the Biodiversity of the Planet, courtesy of our Mayan ancestors which first identified these plants and later domesticated them and developed useful household products. Other contributions are: Corn, cotton, cacao, vanilla, tomatoes and potatoes. Just try to imagine what life would be like without these. No corn flakes, no chocolate or vanilla ice cream, no tomato sauce or ragu on your pasta or pizza, no cotton T-Shirts or sheets, no chocolate bars no French Frye with your burghers.. Awwww..

Needless to say flowering trees (and other beans, yes including black beans as in "frijoles") are an incredibly important part of the ecosystem and our biodiversity. I find that most tourists and visitors to Izabal and the Caribbean part of Guatemala barely notice this wonderful yearly occurrence of this "Planetary Orgasm" which is such a beautiful life giving demonstration of Gaia at her best. Easter always occurs around March-April but the blooms will continue into May and June till the beginning of the heavy rains. Some old timers among the locals use the blooms of different trees to foretell how the weather will evolve. for example this year the San Juan Trees are beginning to flower now ( Late May early June) when in fact they are supposed to do so on Saint John's Day which is June 24th. The Matilisguate's flowered late. Orchids and other species will also bloom around this time of the year, so for the nature enthusiast it is a time to be on the lookout. Bring out your cameras and binoculars and enjoy!!! Click on pictures to enjoy full screen view.

For more information on Guatemala's Biodiversity please look at the Encyclopedic publication recently produced by CONAP you can download chapters or the whole book, some sections are translated to English and Quiche:

A day in the life.....

May 6th 2009

Woke up after tossing and turning in bed for some time, it’s still dark out but I know the moon is half full contributing to a bluish glow in the pre-dawn hours. Went downstairs and brewed some coffee. I did sleep soundly for some 6 hours but perhaps it’s the images that are etched in my mind from Josefina’s dead baby or maybe it’s Don Rigo, laying in his casket just over a month ago, peaceful but not smiling as he always did.

I thought I should write on my blog about “A day in the life of Me” just to give a glimpse of what it is like to be Me, someone who is carving a living from a forestry project and Eco-Lodge in what’s left of the Jungle of Guatemala (not much) in the Rio Dulce National Park, but too many days blend into each other now and too many repeating episodes like recurring bad dreams come back over and over .. it will end up more like “Life and Death” in the Rio Dulce.

Don Rigo Garcia was one of the best workers I ever had, which is an understatement. He was very poor and of very humble origins from a little aldea called ironically “La Libertad” just 12 Kilometers from here. We’ve hired several workers from that village as the local “Fronteras” people are now used to working with tourism as boat drivers, hustlers, etc and no longer want to wield a machete and rake yards for $ 10.00 a day but prefer to hustle or scam tourists.

So Don Rigo came as a yard man. He was not accustomed to our many tools and machines at the hotel like mowers, drills, power washers, and pumps but soon got the hang of it. He was always smiling no matter what.. If I scolded him he would just slowly move his head from side to side and agree with me with an incredible smile under his mustache which he kept impeccably trimmed. He was only five foot two or three .. a small guy but a real bundle of energy. Don Rigo seemed to be omnipresent at times, He was driving some tourists back to town, running an errand for a skipper, depositing our checks, buying medicine for some sick passenger, mowing the lawns, fixing the pump, cleaning the pool, all at the same time. He carried one of our radios and it would be constantly beeping, Don Rigo here, Don Rigo there …get the vegetables, there’s no water in Bungalow three, a burned light bulb in Cabin Toucan.

One day I walked into the hotel from my house and I saw him gesticulating in front of another worker, actually his immediate superior. He was spitting out something that seemed like water and arguing with the other guy. I asked what on earth was going on and found out that as a “prank” the boss had put “pool clarifier” into the drinking water bottle of Don Rigo. I spoke with the floor manager and discovered that this type of “prank” was one of several done by this nameless bastard so even though he had also appeared to be a good worker, I fired him.

When I did, he looked at me in and asked in disbelief: “You’re firing me over this?” I replied in the affirmative telling him that poisoning his fellow workers was not acceptable behavior in my business and that I was sorry but had to let him go as he had also been a faithful guardian at the farm and he lived along with his family at the gate.

So Don Rigo was ascended to the position of “Chief of Maintenance” and continued working with even more fervor in his multiple tasks always with a smile and truly gained all our hearts. He was a humble guy, never bragged, not the macho type, never late, never missed a day, never whined nor complained and continued being a key player in my small operation..

One Friday about a month and a half ago I was home with the wife and the kid watching some silly novella that she likes to indulge in every night when around 8 p.m. I heard the sound of planes and choppers just overhead my house which sits about a mile from the water front. I went out on the porch and it was a dark moonless night with a low ceiling of clouds and smoke, typical or the dry season when fields are burned, scorching heat and the smell of burned forest in the air. I could see a plane flying overhead in a “pattern” … must have been medium sized as he had at least two turboprop engines and circled the same position over and over. Off to the north near my forest one or two choppers with what I guess are full ‘Night Vision” capabilities were flying low and strafing the forest or fields. Gunfire and bombs went off. We were scared into going back inside the house but the flying continued, later we heard a blast and some light artillery or rather a big machine gun “pop pop pop” in the night.

I flashed back to the 70’s when I lived and worked in Chimaltenango. There too I had lived for the last year of my five year “experience” there a life of “terror”. I was with my first wife and 3 year old daughter in a house in the outskirts of San Jose Poaquil a Kackchiquel town we had helped rebuild after the 76 Earthquake.

I loved the town and the people, enjoyed my job and was proud of what I did at age 24 but frankly after a year of sleeping with an old double barrel shotgun under the bed and watching at night from the rooftop, lights meeting in the middle of the cornfields, hearing rumbles of equipment going up the road to Comalapa, hearing “things” about the advancing guerrilla forces and every morning getting up wondering who had been “disappeared” that day by the ever present “judiciales” the officially non-existing brutal police parallel force in charge of kidnapping, torturing and killing suspects of collaborating with the guerrilla, I was dumbfounded and somewhat scared.

Needless to say I was probably on their list as no self respecting young “Bourgeois” Guatemalan would be just “helping” the village without being involved with the “Commies”, we were still in the cold war.

In fact I was not involved with the guerillas and so I was on their list too as a “Reformist” or a “Gringo Sympathizer” either way I had read already too many books from Jesus to Gautama to Gandhi to know that by shooting people all you get is more dead people ( I believe it was Gandhi who said: “ an eye for an eye will result in a lot of blind people” while comparing our Judeo-Christian background to the less belligerent Hindu-Buddhist Culture) so I had consciously decided that although I supported the cause of the Mayans and even the Leftist Government that had been ousted by the military during the Banana Revolt of 1954 I would not pick up a gun and shoot anybody and the old double barrel under the bed was just in case “they” came to get me. I would not go down without a fight. I was pretty courageous, I thought at the time. Now I see I was young and stupid, nevertheless I lasted there till the very end.

Several dozen of my friends and colleagues had “disappeared” then I saw the “writing on the walls” literally one March 20, a day after Saint Joseph’s Patron Saint of San Jose Poaquil we had a great fair, probably the largest since we had rebuilt the town with the help of the Canadian Gov. and Dutch Institutions (NOVIB). There was a noticeable affluence, businesses had flourished, we had set up cooperatives, women groups of medicinal plants producers, basket weavers, brick makers, rebuilt 630 homes, several schools, many water supply systems, set up Bio-Gas Digesters, introduced the dry latrine, the wood burning mud stoves, so there we were proud and happy playing “Loteria” with my wife’s friends and kids in the main square, full of garlands and pine and firecrackers when all of a sudden I saw “them”, a bunch of kids obviously from the university with Che Guevara like bonnets, the girls with “Huipiles” and jeans which no self respecting Kackchiquel woman would ever wear. We knew they were the “guerrilleros” or their cronies; we looked aside nervously and did not comment.

Next morning I got up as usual to go to work, as I left the house in my “Subaru” 4x4 station wagon (not anything like they are today) I saw every wall in town had been painted with spray cans. The slogans were the same: “The army are Assassins” “ Viva la Revolucion” and more: “Gringoes get out of our town” and “Ricos (rich) get out of our town.” I assumed that would be me.

I still hung around for several weeks, my family and friends both local and from the city begged us to leave, finally I was summoned by the “commander” of the Army in Chimaltenango and he knew my family on my wife’s side. He unceremoniously told me that they were going to “clean up the area” and that I should pack up and leave. When I asked how “soon”? He said “now, go home pack your wife and daughter and get out of there”. So I did. What happened next is another story, needless to say several thousand people died and I was one of the few if not the last “gringo*” to walk away alive. My house was torched a year later, and I never would recover fully from that dream gone sour of actually being able to help our fellow humans and succeed at making their lives a little more bearable.

I’m back in 2009 on my porch of the Hacienda and choppers and bullets are flying in the dark night. Oh no! I say to myself not this again. I comment to Monica, the baby is sleeping soundly next to us we lie huddled in our bed wondering when this torment will be over. Now it’s the “narco” wars. Again I’m caught in the cross fire.

After a sleepless night at 6:30 as I was dozing, the phone rings. It is Rigoberto my manager and namesake of Don Rigo. He’s breaking up over the phone, I’m confused. “They” called from Don Rigo’s house to say he won’t make it work today.. He was shot in the back. Three bullets, not twenty steps away from his front door. I go into a deep funk. I make some calls to the staff to arrange for the funeral and give the family some money. I grieve in anger. This nice humble man’s life was needlessly cut short by some coward. This man that we had so much to learn from about “humility”, “constancy” a positive attitude, hard work .. was gone.

I “Zombied “my way though the day. I hate funerals and seldom attend one but I had to go to the wake. I owed it to him. So we went. Saw the spot where he had been shot down, some flowers strewn around a spot marked with lime, a candle or two. A tent and some rented chairs. The small casket; a few relatives, two of his young boys sit around bleary eyed. The wife accommodates us next to the casket. We mumble our condolences; I’m choked and can barely speak. Do I want to see him? she asked. Actually yes, I wanted to say good bye to Don Rigo. She opens the little window in the casket and there he is, pale, peaceful or rather expressionless and, yes, the “smile” is gone from his face.

I thought inside myself they took even that away from him and from us, that nice broad kind smile. The coward that shot him in the back will slither and grind his teeth and although he stole the smile from Don Rigo he will never be able to wear it. Don Rigo is gone but “Cheshire Cat” like his smile is the last thing to vanish. I still see it.

Again yesterday we mourned the death of a three month old baby. Josefina’s baby was “sick” We still don’t know exactly what he had, probably some degenerative disease. But I could see in her eyes and feel in her hug the pain of a Mother’s Love for a lost child and as much as a man may try to comprehend that pain I feel I fall short. She wanted me to see the baby in the casket. She scolded me and said “You never came to see him while living”, I looked while I held her, she stroked his chin, a doll like paleness, again quiet, too quiet but painless, it is over now; her month stay in the Social Security Hospital where workers are treated like cattle even though we pay 13.5% of their wages in fees. The room is full of family and friends, some of my fellow staff show up they are well dressed and radiant, they hug Josefina, I slip away to my car and back to the hotel.

Then home, check my email, answer, send some pictures. Replies to customers, “Is the Rio Dulce safe?” “Is it true that there are problems in Guatemala”: yes Sir, no Ma’am. ‘In twenty years only one tragic incident has occurred to a tourist, a robbery gone wrong” “We now have in place a Navy Patrol”

The day begins. I have to get out there and face the music. The day Don Rigo was shot and the next day in the aftermath of the “Narco War” episode in the farm next door, “strangers” with 9mm pistols and clips were wandering around the fields and forest “looking for stray calves.” Yeah, right!

We had to gently and diplomatically keep our tourists guests from going into the jungle and the farm for several days. I run a small Eco-Hotel in the Rio Dulce area of Guatemala, look after the forest and the trees I have planted over the last 20 years, the forty plus families the business employs. There is a dark side, out there somewhere lurks death, administered by sociopaths and bureaucrats both public and private, and they steal humble men’s smiles and baby’s toothless grins, all the while tormenting the living with the threats, the terror, their laws or lack thereof, their voracious appetites for gain.

I keep telling my friends half in jest and half dead serious. Guatemala is a great destination for “Spiritual Growth.” Here you will learn: “Acceptance”, “Tolerance”, “Patience”, “Sisterly and Brotherly Love” “Facing death and dying” you will practice all these virtues and more. Come visit. Don’t be afraid.

In the meantime I’m glad that my other kids are grown and have flown the nest and are prospering elsewhere and I’m concerned about my new family. What kind of world will they face?

Today is all I have and if I’m to make a difference I have to finish this story, get my ass off this chair and go back out there and fight the dragons inside and outside me. Today.

Rio Dulce May 5th 2009

Eugenio Gobbato

Friday, April 24, 2009




No debería haber un Día de la Tierra, porque todos los días deberíamos vivirlos conscientes de lo que estamos haciendo con el único lugar que tenemos para vivir, pero es necesario aprovechar uno de los poquísimos momentos de reflexión que se plantean a nivel planetario para enfocar con propiedad la difícil situación ambiental en que se encuentra nuestro planeta. Se habla de problemas ambientales desde hace varias décadas, pero hasta ahora ha sido más un discurso de especialistas y de activistas que un despertar de conciencia de la especie humana que nos obligue a hacer los cambios necesarios para que el sistema de vida del planeta Tierra no colapse. Desde los niveles más altos de liderazgo y poder, hasta los estratos más empobrecidos y vulnerables, la cruda realidad ambiental sigue siendo vista con relativa indiferencia. La población humana sigue creciendo, el uso de los recursos sigue siendo desmedido, y también aumenta la producción de venenos tóxicos y basuras que la naturaleza no puede destruir. En días conmemorativos como éste, vemos campañas publicitarias en las que todos se pintan la cara de verde, pero parece que seguimos haciendo las cosas de la misma manera. Como resultado, los ecosistemas y el sistema climático, que se interconectan en la biósfera terrestre, están perdiendo el equilibrio que alcanzaron tras millones de años de evolución.

Tenemos que aprender a ver el problema ambiental desde una perspectiva integral planetaria y cómo se relaciona todo con todo, por todas partes. Los derrames que producen los tanqueros petroleros afectan aguas oceánicas a miles de kilómetros de distancia, así como el oxígeno que producen los bosques tropicales beneficia a la población de todo el mundo.

Como guatemaltecos tenemos que entender que todas nuestras acciones impactan directamente la naturaleza que nos rodea: lo que comemos, lo que tiramos, cómo nos movilizamos, cuánto consumimos. Todo viene de la naturaleza y termina en la naturaleza.

Se está acabando el tiempo para solucionar el problema que hemos provocado: los sistemas de vida están en coma. Más que nunca cobra importancia comprender que defender la naturaleza es cuestión de vida o muerte. El único tiempo que tenemos para tratar de mantener las condiciones que le permiten sobrevivir a la especie humana es ¡ahora! Mañana ya es demasiado tarde. En este Día de la Tierra hacemos un llamado a todas y todos los guatemaltecos para que hagamos cambios y asumamos los compromisos personales necesarios para defender la vida que hay sobre la Tierra; y para que nos esforcemos en aprender a trabajar juntos y a conectarnos, como agentes portadores de este mensaje.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dia Internacional de los Humedales

El día 6 de Febrero de este año se celebro en la Hacienda Tijax el "Día Internacional de los Humedales" evento organizado por el Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas CONAP quien es la Institución a cargo de varios Parques Nacionales entre los que se destacan el Parque Nacional Río Dulce, Parque Nac. Laguna del Tigre y muchos otros mas que cuentan con grandes Humedales. La Licda. Claudia Santizo, Directora del CONAP y otros personeros de la Gobernacion deptal. del INGUAT (Melissa de Smith), el Ing. Manuel Henry Director del PNRD y el Ing. Jose Robledo Director del AMASURLI nos honraron con su presencia.

También se entregaron premios a los fotógrafos destacados en un concurso que para el efecto organizo el CONAP. Uno de los premiados fue nuestro querido amigo conservacionista Ernesto Asturias. Felicitaciones Neto...

Lo importante es que se haga consciencia entre el publico en general acerca de la importancia de los humedales en la ecología de nuestro planeta. Los Humedales son áreas criticas para el mantenimiento de la Biodiversidad y constituyes "gigantescos filtros" como riñones en los que se gestan miles de especies y por donde fluyen aguas que luego forman parte de nuestras propias vidas..

Hacienda Tijax en Destinos "Birdwatching Guatemala"

A finales de Febrero participamos en el evento anual organizado por la Mesa de Aviturismo que anunciamos previamente en este blog. Agradecemos a la Mesa de Aviturismo y a todas las Gentiles Organizadoras que hicieron de este un evento agradable e informativo. Abajo la pagina del Libro de Claudia Munera y Robin Schiele "Birdwatching Guatemala" que viene acompañado de un útil mapa y un excelente listado de sitios para realizar observación de aves.

La Mesa de Aviturismo tambien tiene varias publicaciones entre ellas la "Check List of the Birds of Guatemala", "Aves de Cerro San Gil" Y un CD Interactivo con la lista de aves y otra informacion muy util para los aficionados a la observacion de aves. Les recomendamos ver el sitio web o hacer clik en el enlace en nuestra lista de enlaces.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Los Otoños de un Patriarca Cualquiera

El tiempo corre y con el todo cambia y sin embargo todo sigue igual. Debe haber un lugar en el Universo en donde todo el tiempo se comprime en un solo presente o sea que todo esta sucediendo al mismo tiempo: allí coexisten el pasado el presente y el futuro. Un lugar sin espacio pero con todo el tiempo del mundo. O quizás hay un momento con tanto espacio que allí cabe todo el tiempo del Universo regado por el viento como hojas en un bosque en Otoño.

Hace unos días estaba trabajando en la Hulera y tenia ya el deseo de observar una vez mas ( ya van unos veinte episodios) como todos los años, la Hevea Brasilensis en el bosque de Hule de la Hacienda Tijax. Las hojas se vuelven amarillas, luego rojas, cafés, y al fin caen sopladas por al brisa de la tarde y caen por aquí y por allá hasta formar un colchón multicolor dejando desnudos los arboles.

Para los que viven en "El Norte" o el "Cono Sur" pues esto no es ninguna sorpresa, aquí en Guatemala esto solo sucede en los bosques de Hule. Todos los bosques se resienten un poco en Verano (Febrero, Marzo, Abril) y ciertamente en el área de Coban también los bosques de Liquidambar botan la hoja. En todo caso para mi cada años el cambio en el bosque ha sido otro de esas señales del tiempo como que el reloj Cósmico va a hacer tick, tock y va a sonar la Campana.

Loa Aj'Kijs ya celebraban el nuevo año en Tecpan el cargador del año es Iq: Dios del Viento y si mal no recuerdo en Copan me explicaron que era también el Glifo de Venus:

En otras oportunidades he mencionado esto: La belleza, la magia de vivir aquí y hacer lo que hago, por muy pedestre o proletario que parezca, es justamente esto: aquí estoy en el centro de mi Universo viendo, sintiendo, observando y creo que haciendo mi pequeña parte en en este fantástico viaje a través del tiempo y el espacio. El bosque se desnuda y se renueva, los Abuelos Kackchiqueles nos recuerdan: Este año es Lajuj Iq El año de los Vientos...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poster de Nuevas Cabañas

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Cabañas Nuevas en Hacienda Tijax

Al fin puedo darme el gusto de anunciar oficialmente la presentación de las 10 Nuevas Cabañas de Hacienda Tijax. Ahora que ya tenemos Un Plan de Patrulla Acuática funcionando ahora que la entrada ha sido pavimentada por la Municipalidad, en pocas palabra ahora que ya hemos puesto "La Casa en orden" pues quiero contarles que hemos construido diez nuevas cabañas en el área del "Creeke" en el Hotel. Practicamente esta es un ala nueva con características totalmente diferentes. En realidad las "antiguas" cabañas se hicieron en dos épocas diferentes y los materiales que se usaron eran madera y otro locales. sin embargo las exigencias de la clientela y los cambios en cuanto a disponibilidad de nuevas técnica de constrcción nos permitieron crear este nuevo tipo de cabaña. El "Look" exterior es exactamente Igual para no contrastar con el contorno y con el Medio Ambiente. Sin embargo por dentro las Cabañas nuevas son completamente diferentes.

Hemos usado madera de Teka cultivada en la Hacienda en el proyecto forestal para darles un toque de calor y la vista de "birdhouse" que nos caracteriza sin embargo hemos usado acabados finos por dentro con mampostería y estuco y elementos elegantes para los baños.

Las Cabañas cuentan con:
  • Baño Privado, Agua caliente y ducha con finos acabados.

  • Puertas Panorámicas de vidrio y marcos de aluminio sellados.

  • Mosquiteros elegantes de gaza.

  • Muebles incorporados para colocar maletas y accesorios.

  • Camas con colchones "Therapeutic"
  • Construcción con materiales "aislantes" contra el calor y el ruido.

  • Aire Acondicionado "Mini Split"

  • Contamos con dos versiones: Matrimonial (King size) y Doble (Una Cama Matrimonial y una Imperial)

Esperamos que estas nuevas acomodaciones puedan satisfacer nuestra clientela con mayores exigencias y al mismo tiempo gozar de las bellezas naturales y de la Ecología que ya nos caracteriza así como del buen servicio, la excelente comida y las muchas actividades que se ofrecen en el Hotel.