Divers probe Mayan

Divers probe Mayan ruins submerged in Guatemala Lake

Source (Reuters)

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Scuba divers are exploring the depths of a volcanic lake in Guatemala to find clues about an ancient sacred island where Mayan pilgrims flocked to worship before it was submerged by rising waters.

Samabaj, the first underwater archaeological ruins excavated in Guatemala, were discovered accidentally 12 years ago by a diver exploring picturesque Lake Atitlan, ringed by Mayan villages and popular with foreign tourists.

"No one believed me, even when I told them all about it. They just said 'he's mad'," said Roberto Samayoa, a businessman and recreational diver who grew up near the lake where his grandmother told him legends of a sunken church.

Samayoa dived for years at the lake, often stumbling across pieces of pottery from the Mayan pre-classic period. In 1996, he found the site, with parts of buildings and huge ceremonial stones, known as stelae, clearly visible.

He named it Samabaj, after himself, but only in the past year have professional archeologists taken an interest, mapping the 4,300-square-foot (400-square-meter) area with sonar technology and excavating structures on a raised part of the lake bed.
Researchers believe this area, 50 feet below the lake's surface, was once an island until a catastrophic event, like a volcanic eruption or landslide, raised water levels.
The rising lake drowned the buildings around 250 A.D., before the height of the Mayan empire, and ceramics found intact there suggest the inhabitants left in a hurry.

"We have found six ceremonial monuments and four altars and without doubt there are more, which means this was an extremely important place from a spiritual point of view," lead archaeologist Sonia Medrano told Reuters in an interview.

The Maya built soaring pyramids and elaborate palaces in Central America and southern Mexico before mysteriously abandoning their cities around 900 A.D.
Medrano, whose work is funded by the U.S.-based Reinhart Foundation, says the island has ruins of small houses for about 150 people and is crammed with religious paraphernalia, leading researchers to believe Samabaj was a pilgrimage destination.

Worshippers probably flocked there from the surrounding area, hiring boats from the shore to row them out to the island for prayer and contemplation, Medrano said.
Excavating in the murky, green water is challenging, with artifacts hard to see and buried under thousands of years of sediment.

The exact location of the site is a closely guarded secret, since the archaeologists want to protect it from looters who fish in the ruins for artifacts to be sold, sometimes for thousands of dollars, on the black market.

Written by: Sarah Grainger

Guateamala Starving Children

Guatemala Malnutrition Problem

It is hard to believe that here in the Americas that Malnutrition is a serious problem, but it is. When talking about starving children your first thought goes to Africa. But here in Guatemala the problem of malnutrition has become acute.

Guatemala is hardly one of the poorest countries in the Americas but according to Unicef almost half of the children of this war torn country are chronically malnourished. In some areas of Guatemala where the population is mostly Mayan the child malnutrition is over 80%. The diet for these families is mostly corn tortillas.

In my travels through the country side of Guatemala and working and sleeping in villages throughout the highlands I have witnessed hundreds of hungry children and adults. Tortillas are a regular source of food for these families. My wife being a nurse states that a regular diet of this food without a proper balance of fruit, vegetables, and protein will cause permanent damage to these children.

One afternoon we did physicals to some 100 children in a small school in the highlands outside of Patzun. Every child was malnourished, had bad teeth problems, and dehydrated. Most of the children also were underdeveloped do to the fact of being malnourished.

As stated in an article printed in the EconomistThat points to a failure of government in Guatemala. The Mayan population were the main victims of a long-running civil war between military dictatorships and left-wing guerrillas. Although democracy came, and eventually peace, social conditions have been slow to improve. Income inequality remains extreme, even by Latin American standards. Two-thirds of the rural population remains poor. Guatemala came second to bottom of a new index measuring inequality of opportunity in Latin America published by the World Bank last year. Whereas Guatemala City has shiny shopping malls, gated mansions and trendy restaurants, many indigenous Guatemalans scratch an inadequate living as sharecropping subsistence farmers. “These people were totally abandoned in the mountains with no infrastructure, no education, no health,” says Rafael Espada, the vice-president”.

Guatemalan people are great people, the Mayan’s have some awesome culture and are loving gracious people.

We are here to help these people and get the word out about what is happening in our neighboring country.

Please consider partnering with us to help these children that are caught in between starvation and political power.

Wash Day in Antigua Guatemala

Now can you imagine your wife giving up the convenience of washing clothes at home and going down to the wash station in town to wash clothes by hand? Probably not! But that is what most Mayan women do in Guatemala. Here is typical scene of everyday life in Guatemala.

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

To Me this is one of the best places in Guatemala or the world. I just love this part of Guatemala. The gorgeous volcano's that line this awesome creation of nature. The people in the villages that dot around this magnificent lake are really loving Mayan people. I cant wait to one day I get back to this piece of heaven.

Lghting candles to Saint San Francisco

I am taken back by the beauty in this photograph from Guatemala. This Mayan woman lighting candles to the Saint San Francisco. I believe this picture was taken in Antigua Guatemala.

Home cooked meal

How would you like to cook everyday over an open fire. We get so spoiled here in the U.S. with our conventional stoves. Most people would not know what to do if they had to live like this.

Window in Antigua

window in Antigua
Originally uploaded by Zé Eduardo...
Another awesome photo. I just love the colors in this picture. I love pictures of windows and doors. I have always had a fascination with the windows and doors of Guatemala especially.
This is an spectacular picture.

Mother carrying baby

What a picture taking moment. This is a common scene in Guatemala. I love the colors of the indiginous clothing and the wrap that is holding the baby. What awesome stiching in the hupil. A perfect picture.

Francisca y su bebe, familia de Almolonga con quienes vimos el desfile en Quetzaltenango.

Such an awesome picture. I just love the smiles on these Mayan people. They have so little, but they are so warm and friendly and when they smile, there smile is from ear to ear.

Santa Clara Arch, Antigua Guatemala

This is such an awesome place. Antigua is so beautiful with such great architecture like this spectacular arch of Santa Clara. This is truly one of the most photographed places in Guatemala.