Forward To The Past

crist and boys tikal.jpg

A few days ago I mentioned, in reference to my recent visit to Belize, an earlier visit to Tikal in Guatemala. In the photo above, taken in 1999, three future La Paz Group contributors (Seth Inman, me, and Milo Inman from left to right) were getting our “om” on in preparation to climb the stairs in the background.

Amie Inman, who took that photo, reminds me that she and I had been to Tikal earlier, without our two sons. On both occasions we had the kind of mystical experiences for which this location is known. We had climbed the temple in advance of sunrise, as recommended (no photos from that with us currently, so credit for the photo below goes to a fellow wordpress blogger; click the photo for attribution).


What we all remember about our visits to Tikal, and on a separate journey to Copan in Honduras we had the same sense, was how the archeologists and the relevant authorities in these particular national parks had done just the right amount of excavation. Some things were left to the imagination. Seth and Milo, in a conversation we overheard, said that Tikal was much better than Disney World, because it was real – it was like being Indian Jones. Our understanding of “real” was “unspoiled” in the sense that one could see plenty of uncovered evidence of Mayan culture, and also see that these artifacts of that culture eventually were swallowed by the jungle. Continue reading

Lost & Found, Geological Trickery, Conservation


I had the opportunity to visit a site in Belize that had been on my radar for most of the last two decades. On my radar, but chance had conspired to keep me away, until last week. I will write more about that visit soon, but for now I want to share a thought on the photo above, and the one below (since I neglected to snap photos while standing in exactly the same location as the photographer who took these two, my thanks to him for his website’s provision of these two images).


These are commonly referred to as looter’s trenches, on opposite sides of a Mayan burial site. They are relatively fresh. The family that owns the property on which these trenches were dug, by tomb raiders looking for valuables, decided that the best way to protect the patrimony of this site was to ensure that there were always people nearby to keep looters away. A lodge was built, and it became a pioneering success story in protecting both archeological and natural patrimony. In other words, what we call entrepreneurial conservation. Continue reading