13-Feb-2007 -- 16N 91W Cuarto Pueblo and Pueblo Nuevo: It is between these two villages in El Quiché that we finally found this confluence.
We landed in Aeropuerto Nacional La Aurora in Guatemala City, on 11 February 2007. After renting a 4x4 vehicle, we proceeded to drive towards Cobán, in Alta Verapaz. We came into the city at about 9 pm.
Early the next morning, we started on our way to Raxrujá and then onto Playa Grande Ixcan. For sure we needed this vehicle. The road was very rough and we could barely make it across some points. We were within ½ mile from the confluence. Our vehicle got stuck in the mud. Trying to get out of this mud hole, we almost ended in a drop of about 4 feet down the mountain.
A young man and several villagers tried to give us a hand, but to no avail. We jumped into the bread truck, hopping that the road workers were working today. They had tractors and steam shovels to pave the road. When we arrived to Veracruz, we were informed that the workers only come 22 days out of the month, and then, they are off for 22 days. This place is very remote, it will take too long to come and go in a day’s time.
We kept on riding in the bread truck and saw a bigger truck than ours. We contracted him for about $125.00. This man instructed his two sons (8 and 12 year old) to load the truck with the biggest river stones they would find along the way in between Veracruz and Pueblo Nuevo.
Using a cable, he pulled us out of the mud. It was getting dark, about 7:30 pm. We asked him if there were hotels or pensions in Cuarto Pueblo. He stated, NO; but we could go into zona 3 and ask for either Luis or Artemio López. They are good people, he said. They will not mind helping us for the night.
Carefully, we proceeded around the mud. The road was in better conditions after this point. We drove about 2 miles and asked for directions in a small store. She pointed toward the right side of the road. The other one takes you into Mexico; she said. Cuarto Pueblo was kind of dark. We saw a lot of villagers walking around with flashlights. We asked if we were near zona 3? Were don Luis López’ house? The man said it is on the other side, the first entrance to the right. There is a pick-up truck parked on the side of the house. The other side of what…? We said to each other. Soon we found out that we had to drive across a makeshift bridge, some piled up mud and big wood planks. There was a small creek in between us and the other side. The villager said, don’t worry, your car can make it!
We arrived to don Luis’ house. We began sort of calling, saying: “Hello there, good evening; is don Luis home? Don Luis came out and invited us in. We explained to him that we were in need of a place to sleep. We also shared with him and his family the objective for the next day. They did not understand much, but gave us our own room, with a door and a bed. The bed had a blanket on top and a mosquito net. There was no mattress on the wood planks that made the body of this bed. Dennis claims that the whole night, on my sleep, I was trying to climb up on top of him. This may be the truth, my hipbones still hurt from the no mattress situation.
That night was one of the few times we have seen the sky so clear, no clouds or pollution. The stars looked so big, so many of them seemed to be within my hands’ reach. Our room had a small bulb powered by a solar panel. Not bad, huh?
Next was the going to the potty deal. A young girl took me up the mountain, behind the house to the latrine. I could hear the pig in the next shelter grunting at us.
Early in the morning, we had to draw and pull our own water to clean our selves. It was then, that we saw what a beautiful place this is: So green, so clean, the mountains were beautiful and serene. On a hilltop, we could see a small church.
Don Luis had to go to Ixcan, early in the morning. We heard him making haste, getting ready at about 3 in the morning. He told us the night before that he had to go buy some heads of cattle with his neighbor. Doña Francisca, his wife; gave us coffee. While drinking it, I asked her about her daughters not being in school. She said that they were in the process of putting the house up for sale. They wanted to move back to Mexico, because most of their family lives there. She also told us about the 3-year-old girl: Her mother had abandoned her at birth. She has been with this family ever since. Dennis and I agreed that our suitcase with clothes from my friend Alba, would do a lot of good for them. We had a little something for everybody. Here they were, these folks barely have anything, yet they have enough to give us, even though we were perfect strangers to them.
We started on our way, back on the road to try to find our point.
We found a path into the mountain. Parked the vehicle and started to walk. A man told us that we could walk for about 2 kilometers; but the mud was pretty bad. We said OK and proceeded into the mountain. Some steps were very difficult due to our boots, they would create a vacuum and we could get one foot out and sink with the other.
We met Pascual Andrés, he was mounted on a medium size horse. He walked the path with us for a while. He had been in the USA working in a greenhouse. He knew a little English and was very eager to use it. We made it. We found the point, but the canopy was very dense. We kept on loosing reception on our GPS. We could not Zero in on it to get a reading of it. We had to use the closest one we could get.