Archive for August, 2013

From Mercado Central

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Please allow me to show you a beautiful peace I got myself at Mercado Central on my trip yesterday.
I’ve seen this same work on the Mercado de Artesanias (Artisans Market) in La Antigua Guatemala for double the price.
Don’t forget when you go shopping here you are to haggle. When –by your accent or looks- you are taken as a tourist, you’ll be given a higher price. Make sure you ask for a better price.

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A quick trip to Zone 1 and Mercado Central

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

A street candy shop on Zone 1 and some handicrafts and sweets at Mercado Central.
Zone 1

Festival Cultural de Idiomas Mayas

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Cultural Festival of Mayan Languages at San Carlos University (USAC)
Lovely time at the University. The only thing that saddens me is a number I hear while holding a casual conversation with one of the Mayan Languages teachers. It turns out that there are less than 200 people taking Mayan Languages classes at the University. Not big deal right? Well, This University holds more than 50% of the entire University Students in the country, and there are more than 150 thousand students here. Less than 0.2% of students find it rewarding learning Mayan languages or culture. Sad..
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A short play of Dia de los Santos (Day of the dead?)

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Signing of Mayan folk songs in Kaqchikel

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Mayan Dance

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El Pabank, grupo de proyeccion folklorica Soel Valdez, Son Ritual de Coban.
I really love this!

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Mayan Play Ratz’um K’iche
Forgive me if I get this wrong, but the play’s dialog was narrated in Q’eqchi’. Let’s see if I got the plot right: Two warriors from different Mayan kingdoms get their kingdoms to fight for a young Mayan princess.

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Son Ritual de Coban

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Young performer of El Pabank, ritual dance of Coban.
More photos and complete commentary tomorrow.
El Pabank

We Have Failed!

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

We have failed as a society, as human beings, if we don’t address this issue affecting thousands of children in this country.
8 O’clock pm, selling a product no one wants to buy, on a busy and dangerous street, with light rain on.
Failed

Failed

Escuintla, No Reservations

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Escuintla, No Reservations

Today I had nothing to do, so I decided to go give some well needed maintenance to my vacation property in the Province of Escuintla.
Driving to this location should not take you more than 50 minutes from Guatemala City. Well, Elí moves by bus; which makes it a bit more difficult.
First mistake
I’ve done this route a few times with no issue. I get to the bus stop and get on the first bus (chicken) to my layover. There are direct buses, but I’m not known for being a patient person. Well, there is a very nice highway to my layover location, but it happens that the bus I boarded takes the old road, which makes it double the time to Escuintla City.
Math does not add up
Bus fares are cheap here in Guatemala; Q10 ($1.30) from Escuintla City to Puerto San Jose –the town on the beachfront.
My vacation property is located on the highway, halfway from Escuintla to Puerto San Jose. I first go from Escuintla to my property. When the bus attendant asks for the bus fare, I asked him how much. He replies Q10. Not a big deal for us used to the Dollar currency. For lunch, we took a bus from my vacation property to Puerto San Jose –the ocean front-. Again, when I paid the bus fare, it was Q10 again.
Puerto San Jose
Covered in sweat, dying to gulp down some ice cold beers, we arrived at Puerto San Jose. Walked for a few blocks looking for sand, ocean and something to eat. Out of this narrow alley comes a guy who has the appearance of a street thug, he has the looks of a gang member, he rides an old and in bad shape BMX bike. He starts talking to me, gets close to offer a handshake. I’m a tourist guide he states.
Please forgive me for exercising prejudice, you don’t look or talk like one; Elí thinks.
I can offer you caldo de mariscos, hamburguesas, blah blah, blah blah, ceviches.
Wait: did he just say Ceviche!? Elí thinks! A while ago, I saw a photograph of a Levantamuertos -a type of ceviche- on Antiguadailyphoto, since; I’d been dying to try it.
Well, street thug looking tourist guide, please take me to the restaurant you suggest, Elí thinks.
We have walked out of the narrow alley and there it is, The Pacific Ocean with its entire splendor. Last time here was more than eight years ago, the area was what you would expect at a distant third world country: dirty, few improvised “restaurants”, no infrastructure. When I start paying attention to details, I see things have changed a lot. Now there is a bicycle path with separate lanes for each direction, the area seems cleaner, look: the ocean front has been squatted by these beer brand tarps, toldos they call them. You can see them on the beach, all the way to the horizon line.
Wait: We’ve been walking for a little while now. Where is this “tourist guide” taking me? I think for a moment whether he is bringing me to a trap and going to make some ceviche out of my corpse to sell to some tourists from Guatemala City like me.
Donde es: Where is it? I asked the guide. Right there! He replies.
Get me one of them toldos close to the water I command.
I asked for a Levantamuertos Ceviche and for my partner I ordered him a Ceviche Mixto. I ordered a liter of beer and start sipping it, actually; I finished that beer rather quick and of course I ordered 5 more of those liters.
While waiting for them Ceviches; one of the hundred of street (beach?) vendors approaches my table. I was playing with my camera and I turned him away. I raise my sight and see oysters. Wait: ?Que trae alli? What do you have there, I asked. Local Oysters he tells me. Q25 ($3.20) for half a dozen. Ok, now that you insist I’m going to try them. Can’t ever go wrong with oysters, the sound of waves crashing very near, and an ice cold beer next to you, the view is free.
Ceviches arrived on the table: An overflowing cup of deliciousness. I had been craving this Levantamuertos for years. I start eating it and trying to find what’s so amazing about it. I keep fishing trying to get something extraordinary out of my cup. Nothing! Did not impress me at all! I reached for my partner’s cup and trade it for mine. The Ceviche Mixto did really hit the spot. It had a little of everything; shrimp, little delicious Cephalopods, some mollusks. Ah Heaven!

Puerto San Jose

American?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Found this on a street on my neighborhood.
Countless times I read, or heard this while living in the U.S.A.
Well, most USAians seem to be unaware that there is no country called “America”. They referred themselves exclusively as Americans.
And even here, most people; included the well educated also refer to U.S.A. citizens solely as the only Americans. Oblivious to the fact that (again) there is no country called America.
America is a continent, composed of at least 35 independent countries, some other island nations governed by European States.
Point: Anyone born within this continent would be “An American”. It upsets me when a well educated Guatemala (or other Americans) refer to U.S.A. citizen implying that they are exclusively Americans.
American?

Diverging Society

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Diverging Society.

Guatemalan Society is very divided. This diverging can be witness everywhere; a birthday!
I’ve been to several birthday parties during my stay here in Guatemala. What I’ve seen is this: In every birthday party held by middle class Guatemalans, the birthday song is sang in English. I’ve been to a couple lower class birthday parties too; here they sing it in Spanish.
I might be naive, might give it much importance to something so insignificant; but what would you think if within you country (U.S.A.) some social classes sung celebratory songs in other language, French perhaps, or listening the birthday song sung in German?
Thoughts?
birthdays

Peten, Jungle Trekking

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Getting ready. Leaving Monday at dawn. Don’t expect many photographs. Humidity is very high, heavy rains are certainties, so camera will be deep in my backpack most of the time.
Packing

Destination

Transportation

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

State of the art transportation here in Guatemala City.
Guatemalan Buses

Volcano Eruption

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Yesterday I captured a couple of seconds of Volcan Pacaya during an eruption.
Volcano Eruption

Westernization of our available food

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Maybe I’m living in the wrong side of town!?

Since I moved back to Guatemala, I’ve found rather difficult to eat regional, autochthonous, or native foods.

If you have had the pleasure of having been to France, I’m sure you did not have trouble finding Crêpes, or those delicious Stuffed Artichokes (love those from Bretagne), or if you have been to China, there is no difficulty in finding dumplings or any regional food.

If you have been to Guatemala, probably you left without trying any “real” regional food.  Not long ago, two friends of mine flew from the States to visit me. They arrived late at night, I wanted to have them eat an authentic Guatemalan meal as their first meal in the country. I failed to find a restaurant offering it. Their first meal in the country was T Bell.

Today I got stuck home, I had to go find something quick to eat. There are tacos (Mexican of origin), hot dogs, shucos (Guatemalan version of a Hot Dog), but nothing really regional. I ended up getting a burger (I know, I’m pathetic).

Don’t take me wrong; there is a lot of different foods available here in Guatemala, fine cuisine, international restaurants; but almost none offering autochthonous styles. Believe me! This far; I only know of five restaurant here in the city that feature some (not the entire menu) real Guatemalan dishes.

Oh, the friends I mention failed to try any regional Guatemalan food during their 7 days stay, except for some Cocos Locos we drank in Izabal.

Authentic Guatemalan Food