Saturday, June 18, 2016



Click below if you have this question:

Was MIGUEL ANGEL ORTIZ--One of the First Key Persons--Successful?
We have already met him when he gave us a ride to  the Valparaiso School in Event #5,  47 years after first meeting him as an 18 year old in our history, 

Back in 1969 he is seen in the first portrait of the Central House Family we see below with one year old Joey in his arms.  He had arrived quite miraculously, after we had lost our manager, and was a life saver as he spoke Poqomchi and other crucial reasons.  

He became what I have called  "my first student" (but actually the 2nd, as Carlos Valdez  was the 1st), and over the next 12 months  I taught him how to drive, how to work with poultry, hogs, cattle, and do accounting--all the while he helping me manage everything............
 ...........then was made the Manager of the Valparaiso Plantation during a very crucial period.
Later, in 1972 he became a key person when we acquired the Dairy, he managing it for the first year in Coban, as well as being in charge of deliveries, collecting, and overseeing the store--during which period he met Miriam, the previous owner's daughter, who he eventually married.

Later, for a couple of years we were partners in the cardomon business, and he prospered, eventually becoming the owner of a home in Coban, where they spend weekends, and a 100 acre cattle ranch, near Chisec,  where he & Miriam have lived for 20 years.  In 2007 he sent me a picture of one of his bulls, you see below.....

To visit with him we head north of Coban, dropping from 4,600 feet elevation down to 780 ft. into the hot, tropical  Chisec area

 His oldest son, Oliverio, picks Aura & me up in Coban, and in his A/C equipped Honda SUV we leave Coban and in the next hour will drop nearly 4,000 feet in elevation.  

We will see unique country, a twisty/turny highway, and the kind of vehicles used in the area.  

  We'll notice a lot of smoke as in May the Indians.........

............using their ancient "slash & burn" method of agriculture, chop down the vegetation with machetes and axes, and burn, to be able to plant their corn as the rainy season begins--rainy season from May thru November. Below, on the left-bottom, we're seeing some men working............. we get closer we see that they are actually planting corn with a "planting stick" in this entire rocky area--which is what usually is underneath the jungle of vegetation--as we will see repeatedly during the trip.
 Further along we see other such areas, some much steeper and rockier......
Can you imagine the incredible work that goes into working with machetes clearing this kind of terrain?

........with corn already coming up nourished by little pockets of earth in the rocky terrain.  

On clearing the land, usually wood that can be converted into firewood, is hauled out to the highway for sale. 

 A few times we see highway signs, here with one highway leading to the Transversal del Norte highway that traverses the country east to west, and Playa Grande, which is the crossing of the Chixoy/Salinas River as it rushes down to meet the River of Passion and become the mighty Usumacinta River that forms the border with Mexico, and eventually enters the Gulf of Mexico. 

Along the way we once in a while drive through small rural communities, and observe interesting sights of these remote pockets of civilization.

 Water in this kind of  limestone country is scarce, often with no surface streams as the water quickly drains down and forms underground rivers, and reservoirs of water in caves, which in some areas is their only water source.

 From time to time we begin seeing cardomon, a spice, most of which is sold to Middle Eastern countries as they believe it increases a man's sexual prowess.  The closeup below is a bit out of focus, but gives us an idea about this tropical plant.

 Note:  Most of these photographs were taken on the move with camera held out the window and pointed as best I could as we raced along. So please forgive the less than professional quality of many photos. 

We have now arrived at the area where Miguel Angel has his ranch.

This simple structure was where they lived at first, but which is now a storage/work building.  He learned with me to begin in "pioneer mode" roughing it as he and me did living together in the "haunted Central House" at Valparaiso,  which we gradually improved, driving out the ghosts!

Please forgive me, but I failed to get a picture of their two story home........

 ......where we were soon having lunch with Oliverio,  Miriam, & Miguel Angel

 After a nice lunch, Miguel Angel and me started our hike around what is now a 50 acre cattle ranch. I'll not make many comments, but just let accompany us on the short tour, observing as I did that afternoon--with the exception that you likely will be watching in the comfort of your air conditioned home.  I was sweating profusely!

 Refreshment came in the form of fresh coconut milk! The only pictures I got at his home was this one, below,  of his new 4x4 diesel pickup, and of course the lunch. 

 As mentioned previously, water in many of these areas is scarce, and they don't actually have potable water coming out of the taps in their bathroom and kitchen, but rather have buckets and containers of water--they dip water out of,  and barrels under the roof drains to capture water when it rains.  You will see in a moment what the people of the village do for their water.

 As we head out to the highway, we see in the distance two steep, jungle covered hills which Miguel Angel owns, but is not exploiting, rather keeps it as forest reserve.   Underneath the jungle, most likely is found this kind of terrain.  

Driving through the village we see hoards of villagers waiting their turn to fill their water containers from the only faucet in the area. 

 I would be willing to bet that those who can, buy a lot of soda pop!  

As we race back up the highway into the cooler country, I'll just let you observe with little comment, the geography and culture of this fascinating part of Guatemala.  

 Here we look down on a village area along the highway.......with the traditional church in the middle.............

 Almost everywhere we see small dish TV antennas, with a monthly charge of about $10.  It is about the only form of entertainment, and contact with the modern world. 
In the early years--and most of the time at Valparaiso, my contact with the world was a Zenith short-wave radio.  Then in 1980 I discovered that driving way up in the mountains above Valparaiso into  Guerrilla territory, on the edge of the Chixoy Canyon--with a direct line on KSL radio in Salt Lake City, I could listen to Hot Rod Hundley & the Utah Jazz games--after 9:00 PM for the last quarter of games! 
I became the Jazz fan who took the greatest risk to listen to the tail end of their games!

  The CEIBA, the National Tree.

 ......... In one village we even find a sign:  

.......another village with schools parading & an informal soccer game going on. 

 As we climb back up into country that is not so hot, we notice some areas where pine trees have been planted in terrain that likely no longer produced corn.  It is a variety of pine that grows to commercial size  very quickly.  

Then we come to a less rocky  area where the land has been cleared and coffee trees  planted all over the mountain side.  

Curiously we don't see yet the shade trees that traditionally are needed for coffee production--either they have a variety of coffee that doesn't need the shade, or are waiting to plant the quick growing shade trees a bit later.

As we travel further south we see a sign pointing east to TANCHI, which is a village of San Pedro Carcha (the next town east of Coban).  Tanchi was a remote, rocky area.....seen below with the Foundation's Dodge Power Wagon.
From Tanchi, came two young men, Miguel Chub, and Felix Rosales,  to Valparaiso asking to be part of the Vocational Training Program.  Eventually they were converted to Mormonism, Miguel Chub becoming one of my District Welfare Service missionaries,  who was a key aid in the CHULAC/POLOCHIC STORY.  
Felix, went on to become the first full time Kekchi missionary for the LDS Church, and eventually a bishop in the Coban Stake.  
Back in their time a branch of the Church was established in Tanchi......who knows what has developed since. 

 We are now back up in the cooler country...viewing through the smoke,  the area to north we had just traveled through,  and soon arrived in Coban at Chepina's home.  

We were very grateful for Oliverio's kindness in taking us on the tour to visit with his father, who was one of the keys to all of our successful efforts in Guatemala.

And, I can't resist saying, that if it wasn't for us being in Guatemala with the pieces of the puzzle all coming together making possible me acquiring the Victorious Dairy--Miguel maybe would have never met Miriam, and a whole outstanding growing family of children and grandchildren might have never developed.

He was anxious to get back to his young wife, who was expecting their first child in about two weeks--we pray that all went well with them.
We also pray that you have been enlightened by this tour, and, as we are grateful  for Miguel Angel and his great contribution to the overall success of the Foundation over the last 50 years, also happy for him and his success that all started at Valparaiso, a bit before the Foundation was organized--which eventually was a mutually beneficial  blessing for him, and for our work.
EVENT #9:  Photo/essay

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