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Thread: Guatemala

  1. #1

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    Guatemala

    I have been invited by an anthropologist who is leading an archaeological dig to a very important Mayan city in the wilds of Guatemala to join him and his team next year to do personal photography. I would basically be a visiting artist and not a member of his team, he already has a photographer who does the scientific recording. I am trying to decide if I should take him up on this offer. Part of me says to jump at this once in a lifetime experience, but the other part is a bit nervous. This project is located in the widerness next to a malarial swamp and is home to Fer de Lance snakes. So far there has only been 1 kidnapping and that only lasted about 2 hours. Evidently some bandits needed hostages to trade for one of their own who had been arrested by the army. There are heavily guarded air fields used by drug smugglers who have shot at them as warnings a couple of times, and who knows what else. Sounds like fun, eh? On the other hand this team has been going to this particular site for a few years and hasn't lost anyone yet. So, has anyone here ever gone to Guatemala? I'd very much like to hear of your experiences, especially in the countryside away from population centers. Is it relatively safe? I have no experience of Central America and can't talk to the man who invited me as he is currently on his way there. Thanks!

    Richard Wasserman

  2. #2
    agGNOME's Avatar
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    Sorry no advice to offer. Seems way too risky. Please, let me offer myself enthusiastically as a substitute. I could only welcome such risk.
    (kidding yes, but seriously would love that kind of opportunity)

  3. #3
    jeroldharter's Avatar
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    I spent a couple of weeks in Guatemala in 1991. So it's been awhile. We had a great time, spending most the the time near Lago Atitlan and Tikal. Tikal would have been good for photography but I always find rainforest photography enervating. It is so hot and humid. The light is low. Sweat like a pig. Up in the mountains is much more pleasant. However, with a large format camera you would be sure to draw a crowd. For Guatemala, I might scale down to medium format or even 35 mm.
    Jerold Harter MD

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    roteague's Avatar
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    I would go. I've never been to Guatemala, but I would go anyway. Like you say, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  5. #5

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    I'm still thinking... The area I would go to is about 50 miles west of Tikal and is hot and steamy. At least it would be in March, before the rains start.

    Richard Wasserman

  6. #6
    Aggie's Avatar
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    There is an apugger who lives in Guatamala. I can't remember his name right now and would have to plow through pages of my uncleared PM's to find it. What he told me was Feb. was a great time to be there. The orchids are starting to bloom. This continues for several months. If you don't go, you will always kick yourself for not taking the opportunity.
    Non Digital Diva

  7. #7
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    I agree with Aggie...don't know if I *could* turn down something like that.

  8. #8
    roteague's Avatar
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    One of the great things about this opportunity, is that you have someone there already to help, give you pointers, and, you may in fact be able to augment the work his photographer is already doing.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  9. #9

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    Peter Rockstroh

    Aggie-his name is Peter Rockstroh. He is a fine photographer and lives in Guatemala. I'm more than sure he will be able to tell you anything you could possibly care to know. He is a wonderful guy and we have exchanged many eamils etc. I even lucked out and got a fantastic print from him in the blind print exchange. Do contact him!!!!
    Best, Peter

  10. #10
    johnnywalker's Avatar
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    Haven't been to Guatemala in years, but have spent a fair amount of time in the jungles of central and south america.
    The "barba amarilla" (Fer de lance) is poisonous, but not really that aggressive. The locals will tell you the kinds of places to avoid.
    Take the latest malaria drug, and don't listen to anyone who says they aren't good for you. Malaria is much worse.
    I'm sure the team you are with have the kidnappers and drug runners figured out, and how to avoid them. They won't be that noticeable.
    I don't think a large format would be much fun though. Imagine being under that dark cloth and trying to make camera adjustments with hot, sweaty and salty hands.
    Don't drink the water and don't go barefoot.
    Try and learn some basic Spanish. At least the pronunciation. It's a very phonetic language, and they don't speak too fast in the countryside. Cerveza and "Banyo" (phonetic spelling, haven't got the little thingy on top of the n) are the two most important words.
    Fill any empty parts of your suitcase with toilet paper. The stuff they sell there is marketed here as sandpaper.
    You will find the local people very nice. They have lots of religious holidays there, and some nice costumes they wear at every opportunity.
    I would go in the blink of an eye. Have fun.
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

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