For 27 years the bleak crater of the volcano of Santa Maria has jutted high in the backbone of the Sierra Madre, breathing acrid vapors against the blue Guatemalan sky. Never since the eruption of 1902 has it done much more than that. Planters grew used to the rumblings of Holy Mary, dug through the sterile crust of lava on her flanks to plant coffee bushes in the rich soil beneath. In recent years aviators have used the white plume from her crater as a beacon. Ten...

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