02 April 2008


We have been moving around quickly and often in places with no Internet, which doesn´t help with the blog updating. We leave Friday April 4, on a boat and will not have a chance to update for at least that time. So I am trying to squeeze out this update.

When I first started reading about Guatemala in my guide book, the city Nebaj and its surrounding region, known as the Ixil Triangle, caught my eye as a place to go hiking and have a real Guatemalan experience.

The Ixil Triangle (includes Nebaj and two other cities) was the worst hit during the very bloody and horrific 30 year civil war. The Gorilla army had their stronghold in this part of the Guatemala and innocent people got caught in the middle of a war between the Government and the Gorillas. In this region alone thousands of people disappeared to be tortured, and or murdered by the Government, if they were thought to be sympathetic to opposition forces. Click here for info on the Civil War.

After spending a night at Lake Atitlan, we make a series of van and bus transfers and finally get on the right track (transportation is a freaking nightmare in Guatemala) to Nebaj.

I had the authentic Guatemalan bus experience, including chickens running down the isles, burning brakes on steep and curvy mountain roads, engine overheating (stops in the middle of the road while driver splashes water on the engine to cool it down), just about everything you could ever want, minus pickpockets and lost luggage.

In Nebaj we decided to hire a guide and go on a hike to the village of Cocop, about 3 hours away by foot. The mountains are green and beautiful, but very steep.

Cocop has about 60 families living in it, all very poor. The guide arranged lunch for us in the house of a local woman in the village. We ate Boxboles with Salsa and a toasted corn drink. The Boxboles are, more or less, tamale meal stuffed inside local leaves and boiled for 30 minutes. They food was okay, the salsa was amazing, but the experience of eating lunch in her house is unforgettable.

Lake Atitlan.

Sunset at Atitlan.

Hence the name, Chicken Bus.

Typical house. Earth floors and wood fire to cook. Dogs and chickens share the living space of the house with the humans. Houses are crude and seem haphazardly thrown together. Walls consist of uneven wood planks, and roofs are generally corrigated tin or thatched palm leaves. This is the house in Cocop where we ate lunch.

View of Cocop. Said to be the hardest hit during the 30 year Civil War.

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