Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Window to the Cloud Forest: Chicaman and Uspantan

I am going to start today's post by confessing that while living in Costa Rica, where I lived for a bit more than six years, I realized how much I liked and enjoyed nature in general and specifically, I fell in love with the cloud forest and everything this amazing ecosystem represents.
Peña Flor Laumar, Uspantan, El Quiche (including the main photo). 
I am not saying that I didn't appreciate before what had been mine by birth. It is just like I always took my Guatemala as a whole, for granted, just as I said a few weeks ago when I introduced you to Antigua Guatemala: it was there, it was mine... and that is why I have been looking for the appropriate time to share with you some wonderful places that I no longer take for granted.
El Porvenir River Spring, Chicaman, El Quiche.
Chicaman and Uspantan are not officially in the cloud forest because these Municipalities are right at the end of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, in front of Sierra de las Minas, which (officially speaking) is Guatemala's cloud forest.
El Amay National Park, Chicaman, El Quiche.
Actually, the area comprised of the Chicaman and Uspantan municipalities is probably more diverse than the cloud forest itself, because it has five different ecosystems,including the subtropical wet forest in the National Park El Amay in Chicaman, and the wet forest in Las Guacamayas Reserve in Uspantan.
Las Guacamayas Reserve, Uspantan, El Quiche.
Thanks to the rich diversity and fertile soils, people in this area produce a wide variety of agricultural products, including cardamom -an exotic spice, of which Guatemala is the top world producer.
Cuatro Chorros Waterfall, Chicaman, El Quiche.
In addition to the different ecosystems, the diversity in this region is also related with the predominant ethnic groups who speak 5 different languages: Poqomchi', Poqomam, Q'eqchi', Uspanteko, and Spanish.
Danta Lagoon, Uspantan, El Quiche.
I couldn't finish this post without mentioning that Rigoberta Menchu, laureate with the Peace Nobel Prize in 1992, was born in the Laj Chimel township, Uspantan, place that is also home to the Laj Chimel Nature Reserve and a community deeply rooted to its Mayan beliefs and rituals.
Maya Ritual at the Xoconeb Hill, Uspantan, El Quiche.

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