CANOE & KAYAK: Update for Hostage Incident

“What started in late January with an international expedition to paddle the remote Rio Copon-Chixoy in northern Guatemala quickly escalated into a tense faceoff in lawless lands … ” So begins the tale of indigenous Mayan villagers detaining a group intending a raft-supported descent of the pristine 55-mile Class IV section of jungle river. Rocky Contos’s story appears in our June issue, available on newsstands now. A few days after the trying ordeal that lasted 14 hours, two local politicians took a helicopter back into the remote area with trip members Paul Heesaker and Max Baldetty to speak to the villagers, who apologized for mistaking the foreigners for developers seeking to build a mine or a dam, and returned stolen items. Heesaker called the meeting a “tipping point” toward river preservation. The irony was that members of the group were intending to make a film promoting conservation, responsible eco-tourism and highlighting Guatmala’s best rivers.

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