April 15th, 2010 by robert

After a long, hot day amongst the ruins of Bonampak and Laxchilán, we were dropped in the Lacondon village called Lacanjá. A Lacondon man dressed in nice clothes welcomed the five of us staying the night: the Dane, the three young Mexicans, y yo. He led me and Jacob, the Dane, across a yard, through a hedge apparently onto someone else’s property, and let us into a shed with two beds and a ceiling fan. And left. Light was fading, and when we tried to turn the light bulb or the fan on, nothing happened.

I headed out with binoculars and started cataloguing the birds along the road edge, including a showy and noisy pair of barred antshrikes. Yet as I walked it became clear that the forest edge was not really a forest edge, slivers of forest touched the road, but mostly there were overgrown fields on both sides of the road. The light was fading, so I headed back, thinking tomorrow would be great, guided into the rainforest at last.


We ate a decent dinner and then walked along the one-block main street, where a fería was happening. The fería entailed about four tables covered with handicrafts, mostly bead necklaces and bracelets, with forlorn women sitting behind them in the absolute absence of customers. Many people sat on a big platform watching a movie projected onto a screen. The movie was well along when I joined the audience, but its theme soon became apparent. It was a Lacondon doomsday documentary, about how the people have abandoned traditions and the forest. About how they have allowed all the trees to be cut down, and about the abandonment of community by Lacondon youth.

Pretty sober stuff, and the audience was wrapt. All is well, though, because come 2012 human civilization comes to an end, and then the forest will be able to grow again, and the Lacondon people will resprout in the restored, majestic rainforest.

I left the fería feeling less than optimistic. All considered, it was a depressing scenario. The light was on when I returned to the cabaña, and since there was no phone or internet within many kilometers, I read a short while before turning out the light. Sleep came slowly because of dogs barking and teenagers playing boisterous cards nextdoor.

Lacanjá deforestation

The night was short, when roosters began crowing all over the place at 4 AM, but that was okay with me because I was excited to get up early and look for rainforest birds. So I dragged myself out of bed before first light and headed down the road. I had plenty of time before the tour was to begin at 8. Already the morning chorus was in full swing. I found a trail and walked, and walked. Every time I thought I was entering the forest, into a patch of large trees, I would emerge into another field. I began thinking of deforestation and its complexity, and will have a future post with some of those thoughts.

Discouraged, I returned for breakfast with my ad-hoc traveling companions. Five minutes before 8 a young Lacondon man arrived, dressed in a white tunic made of rough cotton that reached his ankles above his sandles. There were about twenty people eating breakfast, and when he asked who was going into the forest, everyone raised their hand. A little sheepishly, he said he would take twelve maximum, but would rather take six. There was another guide who would be arriving soon. . .

I tucked in close with the three Mexicans, and we were in the group of eleven that ended up leaving with Chambo, the guide. Jacob had already left for Guatemala, so I was the only non-Mexican in the group. Chambo led us on a trail I had not found, into the forest. At last, huge trees all around.

This story is to be continued. I am in an internet cafe the evening before leaving early on a four-day trek into the wilderness of southern Chiapas, a reserve called El Triunfo, and I want to post something before I am out of range, again. Sorry, but it takes time to write these stories!


One Response  
  • Joe writes:
    April 16th, 20104:44 pmat

    Que le vaya bien!

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