Tortillerías and Tiendas

As poverty strikes the rural areas of the country more and more, people living in the countryside are faced with the need of moving to the city in an attempt to make a little money. Most of them end up working in the informal economy selling candy, DVDs, clothes, etc. in the streets. Some women make tortillas and sell them to hungry customers throughout the day, especially around meal times. In the past, women used wood to warm up the “comales” (that were made of clay and are now made of steel) but now it is a common practice to use gas instead of wood. Making tortillas is a great time for women to bond: they talk, share their opinions and joys. They might also talk about their love life and crack up a little about it…what do you think they’re laughing about in this picture?
If you are planning on buying tortillas, consider not being in a rush and wait for the warmest ones which are “del comal”. You will not regret it!

P.S. Tortillerias are sometimes in the same spot as small convenience stores or “tiendas”. These stores did not have bars in the past but owners are now taking all actions possible to prevent robberies. I remember when I was little you could walk through the store and get your chips or soda yourself but now you have to ask the owner to get it for you…oh well, I guess things are not the same after 20 years

Text by: Astrid Fortuny

© 2012, Myrna Hernandez. All rights reserved.

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  • Michele Pineda

    ah, warm tortillas… when we were there this past summer my mother in law and sisters in law would go up to the rooftop to make tortillas… on days they didn’t we’d go buy them piping hot from the local vendor up the road.  Delicious!  I have to admit I was a little surprised during my first visit to Guate a couple years ago, and seeing the bars on the stores and having the owner get the item for you.  We haven’t gotten to that point yet where I live, though when I lived in a larger city I can remember the gas station attendants behind plexiglass in a little booth 🙁  Another thing was seeing so many armed guards everywhere!  I realize of course that this is for the store owners and shoppers protection-but to see so many men with big guns was quite a culture shock at first…