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Devon Barker Stills & Motion - Catamaran Sailing - Carribean

On The High Seas – Guatemala to Florida

We didn’t have much of a plan on how to actually get back from Guatemala. We had three months on our Visas and knew we’d have to get back to the states via bus, plane or as it turns out…sail! We had a few days to kill before meeting up with our friends who own the catamaran “Adonai” so we jumped on the bus from Yepo to the Caribbean coast and did some exploring.

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The best turtle hunters in all of Rio Dulce! The water taxis in the background run up and down the lake all day running expats to their homes and boats.

 

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We’ve been to many hot springs in our travels but this is the first hot waterfall we’ve ever been too. This one is going to be hard to top!

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In search of Topado in Livingston, Guatemala. Topado is a sea food dish that usually consists of salt water fish, mussels, prawns and plaintain stewed in a coconut based broth. After passing an older gentleman on the street who handed us a paper menu, we had to give his restaurant a try. Turns out it was a just a couple tables and when we were told we could eat outside we found that we had our own little private wharf to enjoy sunset and a Gallo : )

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Never know what you’ll find creeping around in the jungle. #freelensing

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Beautiful morning to be setting sail.

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Navigating downt the Rio Dulce towards the Carribean.

 

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As we made out way down Rio Dulce, all I can imagine is the Spanish trying to bring galleons up this narrow river with nothing but oars for power.

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The days activities have always got to include fishing! Mahi for everyone!

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Kaydee and I took the early morning shift (my favorite) which means we always got to catch the sun coming up over the horizon.

 

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Sails up and calm seas.

 

Devon Barker Stills & Motion - Catamaran Sailing - Carribean

When you have an abundance of beautiful purples reflecting off the atmosphere and in turn the texture of the ocean you just can’t help but ask the wife to model for a moment ; )

 

Devon Barker Stills & Motion - Petate Weaving - Yepocapa, Guatemala

The Art of Petate Weaving

Petate weaving is a craft that extends back to the early Mayan period and is a staple in the Yepocapa economy. Tul is harvested once a year and is then dried, sorted by length and split before being woven into bedrolls, mats, baskets and other everyday utensils.

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Tul, the wetland grass used for Petate weaving is harvested once a year so that the individual blades are similar in height. But, before the Tul can be cut and stripped for weaving it must be dried and sorted by hand. Time for a Tul sorting party!

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Tul sorting consists of a few things: sorting by height, sorting by diameter and lastly tying everything into organized bundles. The height difference is only a matter of inches so each person must choose pieces that match perfectly with everyone else.

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The Tul is bound into bundles of similar length and size to make transport easier, but also to get an idea of what size Petate Mats can be woven from this harvest.

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The dried, sorted, and split Tul is woven into Petate sleeping mats, baskets, rugs or wall hangings that start life as a pattern in shades of green.

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It’s only takes a couple days to weave an average size Petate mat, but it’s taken generations to refine the skills to pull it all together.

Devon Barker Stills & Motion -  Yepocapa, Guatemala

Life in a Guatemalan Village

Yepocapa, Chimaltenango – Guatemala is a bustling little town. With one major road running through it that connects the western side of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountain range with the pacific coast. I called Yepocapa home for three months as  I worked on Siglo: A Century in The Soil alongside Director of Photography, Sarah Schwab and our crew. While “Yepo” hosts families from the entire region for it’s daily street market, we spent the majority of our time out in the fields with local small-plot coffee farmers (Campesinos/sinas) who are part of the San Pedrana Cooperativa. The coffee trade is a changing industry in Guatemala, and while I won’t go into detail (you can watch the film for that!), suffice to say it’s  a complicated situation. Blessed with high altitude, cool temps, and an endless supply of fresh volcanic soil thanks to Volcan De Fuego, the farmers here enjoy perfect coffee growing conditions. Here’s just a few of my favorites of day to day life.

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Our day wouldn’t be complete without at least one visit to the Tortilleria on our street. Just look for the kids running around out front, the tin window sign “tres tiempos” and the sweet smell of maiz tortillas!

 

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Just never know how the day will shape up. We made a trip with the leaders of the Co-op to Antigua to visit a dry mill. These raised dry beds are full of honey processed Geisha.

 

 

 

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One of the local farmers measuring the distance between rows during a visit to one of the larger Fincas near Antigua. Gotta take notes!

 

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No sunday is complete without a visit with Papa Leon and Mama Lipa

 

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Literally a truck full of goats.

 

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Nothing says “you’re at the mercy of the volcano” more than pummice falling out of the sky.

 

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Sarah Schwab takes a moment to enjoy the view of town from El Pilar

 

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Taking a break after a hard day of cutting coffee. The large Fincas of Antigua draw workers from miles around, many of them using bicycles for their daily commute.

 

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Looking down from the slopes of Volcan De Acatenango. Yepocapa and the town of Acatenango can be seen down in the valley with Lago Atitlan and it’s surrounding Volcanoes in the distance.

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“How do you spell your name?” Constantly working on our spanish alphabet!

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We can always use another assistant.

 

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We brought an old Polaroid Land camera and a few boxes of Fuji FP-100C with us to take portraits of the farmers and their families to leave behind as mementos. Here Don Pedro poses with his son and grandsons.

 

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Gearing up to shoot Don Evaristo and his honey bees.

 

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The Toyota pickup or chicken bus are the standard modes of transportation around rural Guatemala. We spent plenty of time bouncing down jungle roads on our way to the farms and running around Antigua.

 

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Kaydee taught PE at Collegio Berea (a locally founded non-profit school) and the last of our time in Yepo we were invited to photograph and film as well.

 

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Catuai micro-lot dries and getting ready to head out!

 

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Since most of the coffee grown in Yepo gets shipped out, I had to go in search of another morning planning beverage. Dried Cacao tea it is.

 

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It is such an honor to be welcomed into a family regardless of what country you are in.

 

Devon Barker Stills & Motion - Volcan De Fuego Rescue - Acatenango, Guatemala

Third trip (and possibly final) trip up Volcan De Acatenango – Guatemala

We had a sobering reminder of the power of weather over the weekend. Climbing Volcan De Acatenango for the second time this trip, we got an afternoon start with the intention of camping near the saddle and summiting before sunrise to shoot timelapses. When we hit the saddle the wind was whipping and there were tents everywhere out in the open and full of people trying to stay warm to summit the next morning. After being invited to join a group around their small fire for a minute of warming up and some instant coffee, we went in search of a place to setup for the night that had a little more shelter. The saddle was full so we found a small patch of dry mountainside between a couple tress to provide at least a little bit of wind protection and started to try and level a spot in the volcanic soil using machetes and our hands. We built a platform roughly big enough for our two small tents and small fire to warm up some dinner. We crawled into our already soaked tent to try and get some sleep for the next morning.

 

4am rolls around and the alarm goes off and instantly I realize that we’re all soaked. The temperature dropped in the night and condensation has soaked everything in the tent on top of the rain/sleet that started sometime around 1am. I strap on my soaked shoes and wrap my soaked sleeping bag around some equally soaked cameras in the hopes that it might help somehow and we set out to investigate the summit. We quickly realize it’s still sleeting and visibility is 5-10ft at most as we pass through the camp at the saddle. A few minutes up the trail and where there used to be a camp, there’s now just flattened tents and make shift tarps. What was a tolerable wind five minutes back down, is now a force we’re barely able to walk against on the ridge. The wind is whipping rain/sleet sideways and anything we had managed to keep dry in dry bags is now soaked through as well. The summit definitely isn’t happening and if it is, we’re definitely not going to see anything. We call it quits and head back to our camp and are on the trail back down by 5am to try and get out of the wind and warm up.

 

Fast forward to the morning after we get back…and we’re told 7 people died on the mountain that night, 3 are confirmed and the other 4 are unreleased.

 

All my mountaineering friends, stay safe out there…this weekend was a reminder that there’s just a few millimeters of nylon separating you from the elements and the power of the mountain.