National Geographic : 1947 Oct
Imitative brethren, seeing what he had done, immediately pressed for ward and, each shouting his name and village, pressed on mne corn, apples, squash, sweet potatoes, blocks of sulphur, bottles of mineral charged waters (the area is rich in hot springs), cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers-all for the President of the United States. On my return to the capital I turned over the more durable items to Ambassador Kyle, who wrote a letter of thanks in the name of the President to each municipality. To the northeast, on the road that some day will reach the Department of I'eten, (obain, almost in the geo graphical center of the Republic, grows premium coffee. Many Germans owned coffee plan tations in this area, and Cobin In dian women, noted for their cleanli ness and good looks, often show an admixture of blond blood. Coba neras wear a lacy white huipil (or similar ones of silk or satin) deco rated with brilliant garlands of flowers or a conventional design around the neck called "little boxes and snails." I hlew to Peten in a U. S. military airplane with C. W. ("Buster") Smith, of the Chicle Ievelopment Company. The Department of Peten consists of a great forest-covered limestone plain that stretches to the Mexican border. Averaging 400 feet above sea level, this dense jungle of 12,000 square miles is the home of jaguars, monkeys, macaws, turkeys, curas sows, peccaries, (leer, and snakes. The Land of Mayas and Chicle In this hot luxuriance flourished lavas of the Old Empire. Begin ning their vast building in central I eten, the Alavas trekked north ward through the centuries, aban doning their stone cities. No one knows for certain why; some think farmlands alout each city became exhausted. Finally they emerged in a new burst of building and artistic splendor in the New Empire cities of Yucatin. Today, chicle tappers follow trails in the green twilight, seeking the scattered sapote trees that exude the latex from which chewing gum is made. SNalional Ccogrnapic Stciety Iodachrone by Luis garden Chicle for Chewing Gum Flows in the Peten Jungle The latex comes from sapote trees which must be searched out individually. The heavy red wood was used in Maya con struction, but cutting is prohibited today. Chicle gatherers tap each tree once every four or five years (page 548). Looking for new trees, they have discovered Maya ruins.