Thursday, September 18, 2008

John Lloyd Stephens (1)

Back in 1839, on his first trip to Central America, President Van Buren's special envoy John Lloyd Stephens found himself on the Carretera Atlántico which links the capital with the Caribbean entry points:

"This is the great high road to the city of Guatemala, which has always been a place of distinction in Spanish America. Almost all the travel and merchandise from Europe passes over it; and our guide said that the reason it was so bad was because it was traversed by so many mules. In some countries this would be a reason for making it better; but it was pleasant to find that the people to whom I was accredited were relieved from one of the sources of contention at home, and did not trouble themselves with the complicated questions attendant upon internal improvements."

Similar thoughts traversed my mind the last time I found myself jolting around on the road that leads from the Belizean border to Santa Elena and Flores, gateway to Tikal. In other countries such an important tourist artery would be well maintained...

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