National Geographic : 1926 Nov
GUATEMALA: LAND OF VOLCANOES AND PROGRESS Photograph © Thomas F. Lee "GREEN GOLD" EMBARKING ON ITS LONG JOURNEY TO MARKET The (lay preceding the arrival of the banana steamer the "pick-up" train covers the lines of the banana railway and gathers the piles of green fruit stacked along the way. The majority of the laborers on the banana farms are negroes recruited in Jamaica and other West Indian islands. These men are racially more fitted to withstand the heat of the coastal plain than the upland Indians and are generally already experienced in banana cultivation. of that buzzing swarm. Then one cud dles down in moist satisfaction, only to hear a premonitory hum, followed pres ently by the unmistakable landing of a bloodsucker on some undraped area of a shrinking body. Slowly, vindictively, maliciously, the hand rises to crush the unbidden guest. A vicious slap, a glow of satisfaction, business of cuddling down again, and then another hum, another landing, further onslaughts. Multiply this by every five minutes of the tropical night and the products are weariness and a pent-up grievance. AN AMERICAN COMPLETED GUATEMALA'S RAILWAY A few decades ago the Guatemalan Government concluded to build a railway connecting its capital and west coast coffee plantations with the north coast and markets. When this road was half-finished, both money and credit ran low, leaving a pair of rails beginning at tidewater and end ing at a spot in the broad, warm desert surrounding El Rancho. Then an Ameri can stepped into the breach, completed the railway, and made it possible for me to ride on a well-equipped train from my ship-side to most of the population centers of the Republic. First impressions of Guatemala have to do with countless bunches of green bananas, for this northern fringe of the Republic is bananaland (see Color Plate V). These great fruit farms are recent, and to make them, the low, rich, swampy coastland was drained and made sanitary. A Gorgas had to solve the mystery of yellow fever control before the banana business, as it is conducted to-day, was possible. Forty years ago, the Guate malteco of the plateau would rather have risked a mild dose of poison than a week's sojourn in what is now the banana sec tion. To-day, it is one of the show spots of the Tropics.