The effects of tropical storm Agatha are still being acutely felt around Lake Atitlan and Guatemala. One of the big problems is that the storm saturated the topsoil and now it is very unstable. On Thursday night more landslides of various sizes, mostly smaller, were reported in Tzununa and in many other locations around Guatemala. The road into San Pedro La Laguna and San Juan La Laguna, while technically passable, is covered in mud and smaller slides in many places. Due to the conditions I would advise anyone heading to these locations take a boat from Panajachel (about 20 Quetzales) to these towns. Currently the road from Antigua and Guatemala City into Panajachel is open, though slow due to repair works and continuing small slides.
Many of the expatriates who live around the Lake are chipping in and doing whatever they can to help the local indigenous Maya population. In San Pedro La Laguna a group including The Buddha Restaurant, La Piscina Pool and Bar and others has been raising money for direct aid to needy families. Here is the update from Mike the owner of the Buddha on these efforts;
“Thanks to all who came and contributed to Thursday night’s benefit at The Buddha. We raised over Q1400 in cash. We gathered enough clothing and stuff to overfill a massive box. The Buddha and fiends found 5 mattresses to give to the families that were sleeping on the floor in the Muni and are now sleeping in the big school down the… finca road. International donations can be made to my PayPal at or at http://casadeparrothead.com/Casa_De_Parrothead/Donations.html. These PayPal accounts work very safely and secuely via your credit or debit card or your already existing PayPal account. Check it out at PayPal.com. My account will be funneled toward immediate relief with food, clothing and temporary sheltering, etc… the parrothead account is geared toward longterm solutions for housing construction. All aide will go directly to families most affected by the Agatha storm.”
I speak with personal knowledge of the people involved and I can assure anyone reading this that your money will be used wisely and well.
In San Antonio Polopo my new friend Thomas Zieffle sends this report; “Dennis, a great number of the households are supported by their weaving. Many of those whose houses were lost ALSO lost their ability to make a living. I think my next project will be to help provide looms so they can become self-sufficient again. Also, the water project is working and people are using it.” Thomas provided the photos for my update on San Antonio and his information can be found there.
This years hurricane season is predicted to be the worst since 2005, the year of Hurricane Stan. Stan hit and supersaturated the soil very late in the rainy season, October, and the generally sunny weather after helped mitigate continuing slides. This year a highly destructive storm is marking the very beginning of rainy season. I hope the predictions are wrong and this years rains will be lighter than normal, if not, Guatemala is headed towards a very difficult summer.