Car-Free Day Guatemala

Sunday, September 21, 2014 | by

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Blue Moon

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | by

Great news for those U.S.A. expats!
Guatemala’s beer selectuon has been improving for the last few years and now we have Blue Moon.
One of my favorite everyday beers.
Now yoy can find these bad boy at yout local Guatemalan supermarket.
Cheers!

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Coco Loco

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | by

Coco loco -Crazy Coconut- is a well known drink on Guatemala’s Atlantic Coast. Surprisingly not much known on the rest of the country.

The recipe is very simple: Get a freshly cut coconut, sip on some of its water and replace it with your favorite rum.

Coconuts are abundant on Guatemala’s Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and you can get them for as little as Q5 ($.65 cents). Of course, I get my coconuts free here. I suggest bringing your own rum and make them your self. I prefer Ron Zacapa if you want the best quality.

¡Salud!

Coco Loco

Coco Loco

Holiday Real Estate, Guatemala

Monday, September 15, 2014 | by

I don’t want to sound as a Real Estate Agent, but I feel obliged to tell you about it.

There are a few vacationing real estate projects in Guatemala, most of them situated on the  Pacific Coast, about an hour drive from Guatemala City.

What’s amazing about owning property on one of these places, is all the good things that come with it.

More than a decade ago, when I was just a teen, I used some of my saving to buy a small plot of land on one of these new real estate projects on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast.

I think that decision was a great one. The land is not overly expensive, in today’s market you can buy property on one of those projects for less than $6,000 U.S. of A. Dollars. Not much for those of you in the developed world.  In a lot of these places you get life time membership to use their facilities. In my case, I get access to about 8 different water-parks and tourist centers (swimming pools), free kayak rentals, a 9 points Zip-lining for a modest price of Q20 ( $2.60) and one can do the circuit as many times as one wants, and the thing I love the most; my complex has a botanical garden full of mango trees. During mango season, I get hundreds of them to bring home, and of course, all of it comes free for property owners. And yeah, coconuts are everywhere for the taking: bring a bottle of rum and mix it up with them coconut water. What else would you need.

 

The only thing I hate is that the water park closes to my plot of land is down for maintenance on Mondays. This forces me to drive (or walk) 2 kilometers to the second nearest water park, which is open every day.  2 kilometers! Unacceptable, right?

Danza de los Diablos

Friday, September 12, 2014 | by

Today I went to an independence day celebration held at Guatemala City’s Teatro Nacional.
To my surprise, the Ballet Moderno y Folklórico of Guatemala performed my favorite Mayan Q’eqchi’ Dance.
This dance can be traced to before colonial times, and its meaning is quite exquisite. Each of the dancer is to represent a demon, the interesting part is on the name of each of the demons; each one representing ills affecting the local population and the main character of the dance, the Mayor Demon’s name Laj xik’ translates as “Bat”. There is a large bat population on the areas around where this dance originates, and some how, Mayans knew these bats were the carriers of the diseases affecting them.

Too bad tonight’s version did not come with the pyrotechnics.

And yeah, Mayans where playing with fire on the stage before Rammstein.

Danza de los Diablos

Danza de los Diablos

Guatemalan Ironies

Thursday, September 11, 2014 | by

You can find anglicism used everywhere in Guatemala. What makes this ironic is that it is being used by a member of the Guatemalan Culture Department.
Ironic to see that the Department of Culture prints their shirts with the D. C. logo and an anglicism instead of the proper Spanish word Equipo or Personal.

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Guatemalan Health Care

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 | by

Believe it or not, Guatemala has some great doctors, a lot of them specialized in the U.S. of A.
In fact, my doctor treating me for a severe throat infection, was a doctor a respected hospital in Houston Texas, where he used to charge $200 for an apointment. Here you get him for Q100 ($13).
Dental work, or specialists aren’t expensive either. You can go to Guatemala’s best dentist and you won’t spend more than $30 on your apointment.

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21k Guatemala

Sunday, August 31, 2014 | by

Today was Guatemala City’s 21k race, one of the most important sporting events on the region.

And of course, the runners who win are always the Kenyans.
I saw them after they had run half of the track (10.5 Km.) I took a couple of photos of them and I ran to take second shots but I couldn’t catch up with them!

This event is well recognized, there are runners from all over the world and today there were more than 11 thousand runners; about 8 thousand registered runners and a whole bunch who just do it for fun.

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Traveling on a Dime: Semuc Champey

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | by

Two days ago I got a phone call from a friend who asked me how to get to Semuc Champey, “I’ve never been there” he tells me.

Well, now I’m going to have to share what I told him, yeah, he is traveling on a Guatemalan budget.

First you take a bus to Coban from Downtown Guatemala City (Q35), the bus leaves you a the Terminal in Coban, where you have two options: You can either spend the day in Coban, find a cheap hotel for about Q100 and eat some churrasco at the park for Q15 and have some “Barrilito”, a Guatemalan liquor only sold on this city. And next morning very early take a minibus to the town of Lankin. Option two: up on arrival you find a bus to Lankin, I prefer to spend the day in Coban, that way one can get to Semuc Champey early and spend a whole day there.
The bus to the town of Lankin shouldn’t be more than Q20.
Here is the catch, if you think you can drive to Semuc Champey, the last 5 kilometers to the town of Lankin are on a very steep and narrow road, not apt for inexperience drivers. And! And, from the town of Lankin to Semuc Champey it is a short 5 kilommeters on a very bad, narrow, steep, full of potholes road. There are 4×4 vehicles at the town that will take you to Semuc Champey for Q30 roundtrip. You can find accommodations (Q100)on the town of Lankin if you arrive late and want to head to Semuc early in the morning.
Also if you spend the day in Lankin, a short 20 minutes walk from downtown are the caves of Lankin, a beautiful cave complex worth exploring.

Food, on the town of Lankin you’ll find some inexpensive food joints, nothing fancy on this town, good to save money!
And about 1 Kilometer from the entrance to the park Semuc Champey, there is a “comedor” a place that sells food on the side of the road. Their portions are big and made fresh, a good meal here is Q20.

Make sure you bring a small cooler with a six-pack of your favorite beer (Q50), humidity is very high and you’ll be needing them cold beers. I know, some would recommend water, your choice…

Entrance fee to the park if I remember correctly: Q15

Eli’s style, two days one night for about Q500, or $65

Acatenango Volcano

Sunday, August 17, 2014 | by

Acatenango Volcano is Guatemala’s third highest pick, towering 3,976 m (13,045 ft) in altitude.
Last eruption occurred in 1972, which sent volcanic ash on a 25 kilometers radius.

Only a few small vents remain at the summit and there is no clear evidence for potential eruptions, so, hiking up the summit should not represent a major risk.

Most people who know something about Guatemala’s Volcanoes claim that this one has the best view of them all. I strongly object, I think nothing beats the view from the summit of Tajumulco Volcano, Guatemala’s highest, but I do have to accept that the view from the summit of Acatenango facing Volcan de Fuego (Fire Volcano), a very active volcano, constantly sending large, massive clouds of gasses up in the atmosphere, is a very good contender.

Museo de Arqueología

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 | by

This was a short spontaneous visit to Guatemala City’s Museo de Arqueología
I am always at awe when I see the beautiful art Mayan Civilization created.

Traveling on a Dime: Atitlan

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 | by

Lake Atitlan has been rated as one of the most beautiful lakes on the world and in fact, it is listed on the one thousand places to see before you die.
Well, this destination does not have to break the bank, unless you want it to.

Of course, there are luxury buses to Atitlan, and there are even helicopter rides for those of you who don’t want to get to close to the masses.
but Eli prefers it his way. Taking a chicken bus from Guatemala City to Atitlan shouldn’t cost you more than Q35. this buses only run twice or three times a day, but if you missed it, there are still options. for Q25, you can take any of the buses going to Guatemala’s Highlands; Quiche, Totonicapan, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, etc, you just get off at the Los Encuentros junction. Here there are small buses that would take you to Solola, Solola for the modest sum of Q5. From the city of Solola, you can get on another of those buses en route to Panajachel, which will cost you about Q5. Done! You have arrive to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world!
Staying there doesn’t have to be expensive too, again, unless you want it.
Price of accommodations run from the most luxurious hotels at $400 per night, to the Eli’s hotels that go for about 30-60 quetzales. Eli gets a beautiful and clean hotel room with a nice bed, private shower and A.C. for Q60.
There is so much to do around the lake, so try to spend as little time in your hotel room as possible.
If you don’t like walking, tuc tucs would take you around the city for Q5. Walk, you get to see so much when you do!

El Mariposario
This beautiful butterfly sanctuary is located right at the entrance to the town of Panajachel and the entrance fee is Q60. You won’t be disappointed! They have a nice setup where you can take a short hike trough this mountain full of Coatis and Spider-monkeys. They are very friendly and they get close to tourist expecting to be fed. So make sure you bring some fruit for those nice guys. The hike will take you through a maze of hanging bridges, a beautiful scenery.

Not far from El Mariposario there is a botanical garden highly recommended by many at Hotel Atitlan. I really love the way they do things! Entrance fee to the botanical garden is Q50, but it is reimbursed on anything you buy at their restaurant. A drink at their restaurant is about Q45, so basically your entrance fee comes with a free drink and believe me, they are beautiful.
And: I’ve been to the most exclusive restaurants and hotels in Guatemala and this one is above them all. it has really impressed me with their professionalism and attentiveness. Trust me, you are treated as royalty at this hotel’s restaurant!

Boat trips to any of the towns around the lake will cost you Q50 round trip. Pick any of the towns for a quick visit and you’ll love it there.

Shh, keep this a secret.
Society in the towns around the lake is very open minded and they have come to accept the use of different recreational drugs, as long as no one causes trouble.
In fact, finding illicit drugs won’t be difficult on these streets. A young boy, no more than 13 years old, might offer you a plastic bag a third full of Marijuana for Q50.

And finally, food.
There are hundreds of restaurants on Calle Santander. Pizza places are dominant, I’ve no idea why there are so many pizza places here. Could someone enlighten me?
But at night you got to try street food, very good quality and great prices, you can buy a beer and sit on a corner to enjoy your street food.

A two day trip to Atitlan from Guatemala City or La Antigua Guatemala will run you for about 600 Quetzales, something like $80 U.S. Dollars. and you can check that of your things to do before I die list.