Going to the center of a Massacre

Nebaj Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 20 › view all entries
After enjoying and going into sensory overload at the market in Chichi, we went north to visit a town, Nabaj, which had been the seen of one of the largest massacres in the Americas in the 20th century during the Guatemalan civil war.   The Guatemala civil war had resulted in the deaths of 200,000 people during its 34 year long course.   The reason we went to Nabaj was to get a chance to hike in the hills near the town to get a chance to walk and see the Guatemalan countryside.

The road to Nabaj turned out to be pretty easy to travel, despite what our guide book had said, since the Japanese government had funded paving and improving road that had been unpaved prevously.   The trip took about 2 hours through beautiful canyons and mountains.   We saw some people living some what comfortable by third world standards and others that were pretty bad off.   A lot depended on the land that they were living off.   Some areas were very dry and the people had very little except for parched fields of corn and a few goats or sheep.

Nabaj was fairly active when we got there with its daily market and constant traffic of people, buses, golf cart taxis (call tuk tuks) and the usual crowd of scruffy dogs cleaning up the streets.   We found a decent hotel and one decent place to eat that was a project of Peace Corp workers.   The eating place was connected with a guide service that we used for a couple of hikes into the mountains nearby.  

The first hike took us up a beautiful river valley that one might picture as being a Shangri-la if you forgot about the fact that you had to work like a horse to grow enought food to feed your family.   The trails was quite steep for two aged gringos.   We visited the house of a family who had a dirt floor and open fire in their kitchen.   The lady of the house asked her pig to leave while we sat down and rested for a while after climbing up the hill to get there.   She had a bit of the flu along with her mother, so I shared my supply of tylenol with them and wished them well.

The next day Catherine had her experience with a cold so I went with the guide (and part time Spanish teacher) on a similar hike into the mountains to visit a hacienda that made cheese in the mountains.   The area until recently had been without roads, but now has a dirt road with minibuses.   We road back in a minibus (basically a Toyota van) with Mayans standing up along the sides of the seats.   Fortunately I had a seat or would have needed to see a shaman to staighten out my back afterwards.

After three days in the north we were ready to return to the land of easy living and good restaurants.
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photo by: beinak