Looting the Maya Biosphere

Guatemala Part Two

Lake Péten Ítza

Bob and I float on Lake Péten Ítza on the isolated upper peninsula of Guatemala on the Mexican border, contemplating. (Yup, it’s so quiet and deserted we can do that.) The water is warm and crystal clear. We look through it, on it, above it to nothing; no boats, no fish, no animals, no people, except for guards and dogs protecting the concrete-walled compounds of the rich and powerful on the shoreline.

What used to be in the middle of Mayan civilization in Central America, was first deforested by the Maya themselves to build their cities, grow their maize, build their highways, and much more recently has become a hotbed of clashing Mexican and Guatemalan drug cartels, death squads and another huge deforestation, pesticide proliferation from cattle ranching, and the looting and selling of ancient artifacts. All very lucrative for the drug lords.

La Danta largest pyramid in the world

I love artifacts. It’s so exciting to find bits of antiquity and begin to understand how people lived and how the world has changed. I don’t sell them, but I like to collect them. I could appease my conflict by joining the non-profit Global Heritage Fund and Network which includes Tikal, its neighboring temples. El Mirador, possessing the largest pyramid in the world – La Danta – is now thought to be the cradle of Mayan civilization, and  is largely unexplored. With my background in science and my record volunteering in primitive areas of Africa and Central America, this could be my next volunteer adventure!

El Mirador