Monica and her brother Cristobal Jesus guide us up the side of volcano "Agua" near Antigua, Guatemala. The trail is steep. People have dug many pits along the trail and at the end of each row of corn. In the rainy season the water runs into these pits instead of washing the trail away.
I'm visiting Guatemala with my mother, hosted by an amazing NGO called Common Hope
Monica and her brother are ethnic Maya, like most Guatemalans..
The oldest archeological evidence of maize cultivation, 3000+ years ago, is found here in Guatemala.
Their family has grown it ever since. The corn has already been harvested in this field but the beans are still growing. The vines climb up the cornstalks. The cornstalks were tall, ten feet or more. To harvest the ears of corn they cut the stalk with a machete overhead. That made the top fall over so they could reach the ears.
The corn depletes the nitrates in the soil. The beans put nitrogen back in with the help of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules. Beans supply the diet with amino acids lacking in the corn. It's a perfect system.
In this photo smoke issues from the summit of active volcano "Fuego". "Acatenango" volcano is to the right of Fuego.