Guatemala, drowning in algae!

In Places I Love, Young unemployed professional on December 24, 2009 at 8:21 PM

The following writing style might not make sense or follow the commonly accepted style of writing and communication, you might get confused and want to pull your hair out. I don’t intend to offend, inspire, or sell anything. I am just typing!

After a long year of career struggles, working day and night, I finally make it home for the holidays. I wanted to relax, enjoy the nature, my mother’s food, and all the drama Christmas with the family can bring, but I can’t!

Home to me is one of the most interesting places in the world, Guatemala.

What makes Guatemala so interesting is that despite it being a rather small country, it holds some of the most important history and culture in Latin American heritage. It is the birthplace of the Mayans and one of the major Spanish capitals during the colonization.

Most vividly, Guatemala is one of the most physically striking places in the world. It’s never-ending blue skies, and eternal greenery make you smile all the time. Every where you look you see a volcano, and the temperature seems to change only mildly.

Because of its political and criminal struggle, Guatemala, unlike Cost Rica or Mexico, has not been able to establish itself as a tourist destination, to a larger extent. Yet, one of the jewels of Guatemala has kept thousands of people from around the world returning to this exotic land, and that is lake Atitlan.

Lake Atitltan, according to scientists was a large volcano that caved in and filled with fresh water. It is now an eternal blue lagoon surrounded by numerous volcanoes and mountains. Un fortunately the ignorance of people in the area, and the irresponsibility of the Guatemalan government has taken its toll on this natural wonder.

In 2009, lake Atitlan suffered a dramatic growth of algae in it waters. This algae feeds on the waste coming from the drains, and the waste that the rains wash down from the mountains. Today lake Atitlan is packed filled with bacteria, algae, and the intoxicating smell has kept tourists, visitors and residents away from the waters.

This does not surprise me at all, it usually takes an event like this to steer people into action, right? Apparently not!

Not the government, not the residents, not the tourists, no one has started organizing and planning the repair and cleansing of this world marvel. WHY? Are Guatemalans stupid? Do they understand what this means to our economy, to our geography, to our history and future? It saddens me that my friends in the United States that keep asking me to take them to Atitlan might never see it, it saddens me to think that I might not be able to bring my children to Atitlan and watch their faces as my father watched mine, just before I said, “it looks fake, like a picture!”.

It is time to start talking about it my fellow Guatemalans, travel enthusiasts and naturalists. What is the plan? What are we going to do?

Guatemalans, we have already lost one of our lakes to our ignorance. Lake Amatitlan is the most recent victim of Guatemalan irresponsibility. As a kid we had a small house by lake Amatitlan and I remember playing in its white sands, and swimming in its clear water. Fast forward about six years, and the algae has taken over its sands, the deep green tone has replaced its clarity, and the ungodly smell keeps us from visiting.

We need to start by educating the residents of this lake and re directing the sewage and waste channels. We need Guatemalans to understand that every time we loose a lake, a forest, a quetzal, a child, we loose our nation, we loose our identity, we become invisible.

Check this out:


  1. The website http://www.lakeatitlanhealth.com has a lot of information about the problem, the governments plan, and links to groups trying to organize to clean the lake. It’s a huge problem that has a lot of people around the lake looking for ways to help.

  2. You are right about some people not undestanding the need to do something, but not all the people. Also some mayor projects need to be done and unfortunately thats where political and goverment actions are required, that may imply social monitoring

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