Friday, July 24, 2015

Poetry, Geography, and Writing: Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala

Beach in Belize
Photo Credit: Bob Reck
We missed a day because of terrible weather and had to smash some of the countries together, thus the five countries in this lesson, rather than the two lessons (Guatemala and Belize; Honduras Nicaragua and El Salvador) that were planned.

Geography Skills

Ocean currents: El Niño and La Niña, and the Gulf Stream. Here's a starting page, from NOAA.

Warm Up/Review 

Do activities 19-22 in World Geography Daily Skill Builders. 
Go around the room on a state capital challenge. First person says a state, next person names the capital and another state, next person names the capital and another state. If you have to pass, say pass in a funny accent. If you can't think of a state, say New Hampshire.

Six Things to Know About Belize

1. Mayan history: preclassic 1000BC-300AD, classic 300AD-900AD, post-classic 1000-1500. 
   Chichen Itza (actually in Mexico)
   Caracol (in Belize)

2. Christopher Columbus named Bay of Honduras in 1502.

3. First settlers English Puritans, set up trading posts, British buccaneers “Baymen” took protection money from the Spanish in the form of logging rights

4. British Colony: British Honduras. 1840-1981 

5. In Belize today, three distinct Maya tribes still exist: the indigenous Mopan in the north; the Yucatec, who migrated from Mexico, also in the north; and, the Kekchi, who migrated from Guatemala, in the west and south.

6. From a Belize web site: “Do not buy and sell antiquities. Protect our cultural heritage.” What are antiquities? Why would people be selling them? Why should they not?

Six Things to Know About Guatemala

1. Sierra Madre in the west has three active volcanoes. Last eruption in 1976 killed 23000 people. (20,000 people were killed at Pompeii)

2. Hurricane Stan, 2005, killed 1500 people. 

3. Locate the fault line between the North American Tectonic Plate and the Caribbean Tectonic Plate. Central America Volcanic Arc: Subduction Zone at the Western end of Caribbean Plate

4. United Fruit Company: After the industrial revolution (late 19th early 20th) big companies, supported by the US government, took over production in Guatemala, with horrible labor practices and exploitative economics. 

5. Guatemalan revolution: 1944 Arevalo and Arbenz presidencies -- sweeping social and economic reforms, increase in literacy. United Fruit Company asked for the US Government to end it and we did. 

6. Tikal, ruins of ancient Mayan city. 

Six Things to Know About Nicaragua

1. When invaders landed, they found three tribes, all different, all ruled by different kings, migrated up from Colombia. They destroyed the indigenous population with war and disease. Indians were killed, forced to work or sold as slaves. Troubled history, US occupation from 1912-1933. 

2. Somoza Dynasty. U.S. interests in deforestation, plantations, and ranches. 

3. Mid-20th century. Nicaragua became the top beef supplier to the U.S. for fast food and pet food industries. Meanwhile U.S. pesticide exports to Nicaragua, where DDT was used, illegal to use in U.S. 

4. Sandinistas rebelled against Somoza. U.S. backed Somoza. Sandinistas won in 1984.

5. Ronald Reagan colored the Sandanistas as communists, particularly because they were supported by Fidel Castro. He colored the opposing fighters, the Contras, as freedom fighters, and said they were "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers." Contras planted mines and U.S. used sanctions against Nicaragua to aid them. 

6. The Iran Contra Affair of 1986-1987. In 1982, legislation was enacted by US Congress to prohibit aid to the Contras. Reagan's officials illegally supplied them anyway, using money they got from selling arms to Iran and also from donations. 

Six Things to Know About Honduras

1. Honduras literally means "depths" in Spanish. The name could either refer to the bay of Trujillo as an anchorage, fondura in the Leonese dialect of Spanish, or to Columbus's alleged quote that "Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de esas Honduras" ("Thank God we have departed from those depths"). 

2. Spanish conquered them and mined their silver with slaves from elsewhere. Independent in 1821.

3. U.S. fruit companies built self-sufficient enclaves in northern Honduras that contributed no taxes and did not aid the local economy. American troops were inserted many times to keep the peace. 

4. Honduras suffers many hurricanes, earthquakes, floods.

5. Trash Mountain. Tegucigalpa. Watch this short film about garbage picking in Honduras. 

6. The Train of Death. La Bestia. Migrants escape Honduras and attempt to flee to the U.S. through Mexico on this dangerous train. Watch this image slide show

Six Things to Know About El Salvador

1. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes: San Miguel and Izalco, known as the "Lighthouse of the Pacific. 

2. Capital city of San Salvador has been destroyed twice and damaged three times by earthquakes. 

3. Heavy rainstorms and droughts affected by El Niño and La Niña. Famine, flood, landslides.

4. First big crop was indigo, replaced by coffee in mid-19th century when chemical dye replaced indigo. 

5. Military dictatorships, war, upheaval, leading to civil war in the 1980s.    

4. Current murder epidemic, gang violence. Here's a good article, but not for younger students. 


Mayan poetry examples can be found on this page. We discussed the one below. 

The most alluring moon
has risen over the forest;
it is going to burn
suspended in the center
of the sky to lighten
all the earth, all the woods,
shining its light on all.
Sweetly comes the air and the perfume.
Happiness permeates all good men.
We have arrived inside the woods
where no one will see what we have
come here to do.
We have brought plumeria flowers,
chucum blossoms, dog jasmines;
we have the copal,
the low cane vine,
the land tortoise shell,
new quartz, chalk and cotton thread;
the new chocolate cup,
the large fine flint,
the new weight,
the new needle work,
gifts of turkeys, new leather,
all new, even our hair bands,
they touch us with nectar
of the roaring conch shell
of the ancients.
Already, already
we are in the heart of the woods,
at the edge of the pool in the stone
to await the rising
of the lovely smoking star
over the forest.
Take off your clothes,
let down your hair,
become as you were
when you arrived here on earth,
virgins, maidens.

Activity: Make Guatemalan Worry Dolls

I'm not going to go into instructions here. There are lots of places online to find out what they are and how to make them with better illustrations than I have! :) Here's a picture of ours though:


Time: 20 minutes
Length: 1 page

Consider this quote:

“Do you understand the sadness of geography?”
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

What do you think the writer is saying about geography? To what extent do you agree with what he is saying? Can geography be sad? When or where? You can focus on anything, from exploitation of resources to natural disasters to overcoming boundaries. Give an example from something we talked about today in class. Pay close attention to the rhetorical device you use in your intro. Will you choose to paint a picture for the reader, to put the reader into a scene? Try starting with the word "imagine" and see where it takes you. Try to draw your reader into the emotion of sadness from the beginning of your essay. 

No comments:

Post a Comment