Parque Nueva Juventud - Some Background

Trip Start May 26, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Where I stayed
Volunteer El Peten

Flag of Guatemala  ,
Sunday, August 10, 2008

I have spent the past month as a volunteer with Volunteer El Peten, this is some background

The Eco Parque Nueva Juventud is set a half hour hike from the centre of San Andreas. On my first visit to the park, a fellow volunteer offered directions " Walk until you feel you have walked too far and then walk for another 5 minutes, you cannot miss it." The hike is along a dusty biege road and it is hot going. That said, everything here in Peten is hot going, the temperature is high and the humidity higher. Within five minutes of leaving my house I am actively glistening and within an hour of beginning work in the park my clothes are saturated from head to toe. I cannot believe the extent that I have sweated this past month, I knew in theory I was 70% water, but I would never believed my body capable of producing so much fluid on a daily basis.
The combination of heat and work, build in me an intense and constant appetite, I have heard that the heat is actually suppose4d to suppress your hunger, but I do not believe a word of these old wives tales. Instead my hunger is sated by the frequent montains of food that my host family provide for me, regular as clockwork, three times a day. As with Xela, the food here is simple, and the staples are frijoles, tortillas, plantainos, rice, eggs and suprisingly large quantities of meat. Occassionally my house family spring a suprise, to break the culinary rhythm, a suprise might comprise a local speciality such as buyos or tamilitos (local specialities.)   Breakfast here is no different to any other meal of the day, and in a strange way I long for the monatonous rythm of muesli and granoli with cold milk.
The park covers a substantial area of land and takes a substantial hike to explore. However as with all things conservation related, it could do with being bigger to prevent it from being an island of reemerging diversity surrounded by human settlement. The park is sited on partially cleared land, and the primary goal is reforestation to speed the process of succession and create a diverse environment where native hardwoods and animals can survive. Some of the older trees remain in the park, including those that, amusingly, were too tough to machete and when chain sawed produced wood of no practical value because it was too tough to manipulate and destyroyed the sawmills tools when cut.   The older trees that do remain help to provide some shade and so create conditions in which young trees can thrive and worthless secondary growth is prevented.
However conditions in all the park are not so fortutious and so a lot of work to machete the quick growing weeds and prepare land for the planting of tree species and other plant species such as bananos, plantanos, mushan, makel that can provide shade to protect the more vulnerable species that the project aims to reintroduce. Across the park also are planted various food plants such as oranges, ginger, pineapple, maize, sugar cane to provcide some kind of output from the park.
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