62. Rio Tatin, Guatemala - Finca Tatin and the Ak' Tenamit Project

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June 29, 2007

The gift store at the end of Rio Tatin sells an array of handicrafts that women from the surrounding Q’eqchi Mayan villages make.

The handicrafts are made from various types of materials, including recycled kitchen waste. We bought two bowls made of thick paper-like banana stalk.

The store is part of a community development project – Ak’Tenamit - that was started in 1992 by a small group of foreign volunteers and village leaders, to transform life of the Q’eqchi Mayans who populate eastern Guatemala. Ak' Tenamit (or Aktenamit) means “New Village” in the Q’eqchi Mayan language.

According to its website, the project now provides basic health care to approximately 26,000 people in 124 villages and has about 400 students in its an innovative secondary school –

It takes about 20 minutes to kayak from Finca Tatin, where we stayed, to the Ak’Tenamit gift store.

(A 30 minute kayak in the other direction, up the Rio Dulce against the current, took us to the sulfur smelling, rustic natural hot springs, which is poplar with visitors as are the caves found above them).

Finca Tatin is a chilled out eco-retreat on Rio Tatin, a tiny tributary of Rio Dulce. It is owned by a hardworking, if somewhat distracted, Argentinian-Italian, Carlos Simonini.

Only accessible by boat, the finca consists of rustic cabins, a dock, a rope-swing, and hammocks. A communal dinner is served each night. Payment for everything is on the honour system.

Because its relies on generators for power, the electricity is turned on for only four or five hours each evening. The only light we had as we tucked ourselves under the mosquito netting over our bed on a stormy night, was that given off by the lightning crashing down nearby.

In the end, Finca Tatin, while serene, was a bit too chilled for our liking and so we caught a boat back up the Rio Dulce early the next morning.

Key Facts & Figures:

-Boat trip, Livingston to Finca Tatin: $4.25/person
-Finca Tatin: $20/night
-Boat trip, Finca Tatin to Rio Dulce: $10/person
-Kayaking: $1/person