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Tales from an intrepid viajero in Latin America Despite promising myself that I´d never be so self-indulgent as to write a blog that´s exactly what I´m going to do. Welcome to the blog that I´m writing while studying Spanish and travelling in Latin America over the next 8 months

Saving the planet (well, a forest in Guatemala)

GUATEMALA | Monday, 22 December 2008 | Views [791] | Comments [1]

I started my voluntary work in Xela about 3 weeks ago which was pretty easy to find. A couple of people I know decided it would be a good idea to promise to replace a forest that got infected with some kind of disease. Instead of saying we would plant part of a forest or a sensible number of trees Mario and Marvin decided to pledge 100,000 trees by next October. Obviously, this wouldn´t be too bad if we had an army of volunteers, knowledge of the latest reforestation techniques and access to equipment. However, from what I can tell we currently have:

1. No experience of doing this type of thing before

2. No equipment other than hoes and black dustbin bags

3. Four of us working in the afternoons on a fairly intermittent basis

None of this would be too terrible if we could just abandon the promise without anybody noticing. However, Mario decided to call in the national press and announced to the Xela`s municipildad what we were going to do. I`m fairly sure he was drunk at the time when he did all of this but he assures me he was completely sober.

So far, we´ve planted 5,000 connifers and pine trees - they are doing pretty well. Unfortunately, we have to "accelerate" the process a bit in the next few weeks and are currently preparing the land for the next lot of trees. This has involved going to some field in the middle of nowhere and digging up the land to plant the seeds. This would be fairly quick and easy if we had a JGB but it takes a bit longer when all you have is four people with glorified spades. Luckily, we´ve come up with a cunning plan to speed things up as digging up dry land for 3 months would probably kill us - we`re going to burn the land and then prepare it with sand, brosa (I think that is Spanish for peet) and a mini-irrigation system (we haven`t worked out how to do this bit yet but I`m sure it`s fairly easy...).

Of course, you`re probably thinking it is somewhat intuitive to be engaged in a project to "save the planet" while burning land and releasing lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. We´re wondering the same thing but are currently justifying it on the basis that it is in a greater cause (i.e. us having hands not covered in blisters).

If this blog leaves you with the impression that we don`t know what we are doing it is probably because we don`t know what we`re doing. However, I`m fairly confident that it will all turn out reasonably well in the end. We`ve already planted 5,000 trees and have got 9 months to plant 95,000 more before handing them over to the San Fransico de Union to care for.

p.s. if you read about a "wildfires" penetrating through Guatemala you can probably guess from where they originated

Tags: volunteer work



Hi Amil, have a good Xmas! Here's something to keep you going: http://canarywoof.blogspot.com/

Cheers, Mark

  Mark Bradshaw Dec 23, 2008 3:02 AM



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