Culmi and the Pech
Dulce Nombre de Culmi is on the southern edge
of the Rio Platano Biosphere, but few people enter the park from the South. Near
Culmi, it is possible to visit the Pech in Vallecito and La Campana/Aguazarka.
People stay in hotels in Culmi and walk 45 minutes to the village of Vallecito
or take the Catacamas-Culmi bus to La Campana and get off. It is about 1 ½ hours
walk back if you miss the bus. The Pech are frequently in Culmi shopping and
rest in the park before going home. I have found it easy to invite people to a
Coca-Cola to talk before they return to their village. They are different from
the Ladinos by their very straight hair, which often stands up on the men, and
their short height, their dark skin, and poorer clothes. There are little hotels
and restaurants in Culmi. I would consider Baygon (kills cockroaches) and/or
Plagatox spirals (kills mosquitoes) for the bugs.
The Pech of Culmi have lost their nearby rainforest due to logging. Now they are
farmers. A few women know how to make Pech clay pots or Pech tree bark twine
There is a larger Pech community at Pueblo Nuevo Subirana about 1 hour north of
Culmi by bus and 1 ½ hours walking. If you go there you have to spend the night.
Sometimes they let people stay in the school. People here sometimes guide people
into the Rio Platano Biosphere or to the Tawahka Biosphere. This is quite a
strenuous trip. There is no communication between the Pech area and the Tawahka
area. It is much easier to visit the Tawahkas first and then have the Tawahkas
guide you into Culmi. When the summer rains come in June the River Wampu is too
rough to be navigable.
The Pech are organized in villages and the head of each village is the “cacique”
or the Presidente del Consejo Tribal.