Monday, July 07, 2008

virgin bush

Map: Google Earth, showing the border that the Usumacinta River cuts through Mexico and Guatemala

The Zapatista Rebellion in 1994 and 1995, and the Guatemalan peace accords in 1996, reshaped the political lines in the watershed. As a direct consequence, and with the dramatic fall of the peso, bandits began robbing raft trips, ending wilderness travel in the corridor. One of the most promising tourist activities, with the least potential impact and the most possibility for helping conservation, archaeology, and cultural preservation, ended. Illegal activity of all types took over the corridor.

While I'm not sure I agree with Wikipedia's interpretation of the cascade of events, this is their penultimate word on the Usumacinta River, where I'll be heading next week in the company of a guide who has only recently started taking groups back to the Piedras Negras site after a whole lotta years during which it was considered largely unreceptive (read: populated with men with guns and drugs hanging out in the jungle).

Leaving Friday. This will be my first trip to Piedras Negras. I visited its rival polity, Yaxchilan, a few years back, but at the time Piedras was considered off limits.

Will post as the signal allows. Have also queued up some posts to fire automatically with my intended whereabouts. We'll see how that goes.

"Virgin bush" was how the Guatemalan side of a satellite image of the Usumacinta (like the one shown above) was described by an archaeologist at the Maya Meetings a few years back (at which my sweetie sniggered and I said "what?"). Guatemala to the right; Mexico to the left where deforestation reigns.

The river itself is under renewed threat: for years there's been talk about damming the Usumacinta and putting Mayan sites, known and unknown, under water. So far activists have been able to stave off the threat. I'm relaying word of mouth from the Maya Meetings for that news too -- I'll pull up some references as time allows for those who might be curious.


I, Rodius said...

I sniggered too. It's a man thing.

Please try not to get kidnapped or anything else horrible. Twitter us if you do, and we'll call in the green berets.

I love living vicariously through your beautiful and beautifully presented life!

anniemcq said...

I sniggered too. But you'd expect that from me, wouldn't you?

And I second what Rodius said. The mom in me is worried about you. Please be safe.

p2wy said...

Yes, please be safe... and thanks for the email-cc this afternoon, it cheered up an otherwise dreary Monday in the office :-)

em said...

dont travel too safe.
just come back.
(slightly changed).

[this post is guaranteed smilie-free]

suttonhoo said...

thanks guys -- promise. all around.

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