Archive for April, 2014

The Hood

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Fenced up

Most residential complexes here in Guatemala are surrounded by walls, have security gates; in my case, my neighborhood has two gated entrances where you have to surrender your state id or your driver’s licence if you are coming inside.
Security protocols are tough, and in many cases lacking common sense: not allowing someone (a friend of mine) to enter because her driver’s licence had expired, not allowing me to move some appliances without a written consent from the neighbors association, and I love this one: I have no respect for security gates, specially if I’m a resident in the neighborhood; I do a lot of cycling and never stop at the gates, a while ago they attached a tree branch to the end of gate where Eli used to sneaked by.
The inner streets are usually patrolled by private security officers, a lot of times with poor weapons training.
They are bad paid, work 48-72 uninterrupted shifts and completely lack knowledge of laws and regulations. I wouldn’t give a loaded gun to anyone under those circumstances.

Personally I hate gated communities, I find them an architectonic aberration and I tend to agree with what Jared Diamond, Author of the book Collapse, had suggested: Gated communities contribute (and have) to the collapse of civilizations. When the elites (or the middle class) isolates themselves from the rest of the country, the problems and important issues, that’s when a civilization starts to collapse.

Very simple, Guatemala has serious issues with crime, infrastructure, health, etc. When is a problem solved by isolating yourself from it?

The Hood

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Street Dogs

Street dogs are very common, even inside a gated community,
A few weeks ago we had one of them visiting my house door every night. We gave him some food and waited a few days to see if it went to a house, but no and one claimed it.
My wife and I took it to the vet’s and now it has fully recovered.

Four months ago we had a similar story. We had a beautiful dog following us when we left the house. The dog was malnourished and with clear signs of fatigue. After several days of observing this dog outside our house, we took it in, fed it and we brought it to the vet’s.
She was a real beauty but we had to find her a home because it was way to large for this tiny house.

There are so many of them out there, one becomes overwhelmed.

Food Delivery

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Thumbs up for Pollo Brujo!

Very smart, planet friendly food delivery.
Got something like this in your city?

Pollo Brujo

Pollo Brujo

The Hood

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

One of the things I love about living in an older neighborhood is that there are no building codes, no regulations for businesses and this leads to the neighborhood to have more character and uniqueness. On the opposite site we have newer residential complexes were no business are allowed, and these are reserved for the wealthier families of Guatemala.
Here where I live we have more than twenty five “tiendas”, small informal convenience stores, in fact; most business are not registered and lack proper business permits, but that’s how things work here in Guatemala. We have this many tiendas for a gated community of no more than 600 houses; that’s about one tienda for every 24 or so houses.
One thing I love about living in a neighborhood like this one is that people can still opt for fresher groceries: if you want fresh eggs, you don’t go to your local tienda, you go to “La Huevera”, the woman who sells eggs, they are fresher and sometimes cheaper too. You can get fresh cheese and other dairy products here too.
Same happens when you want fresher fruits or vegetables; you can buy them at your local tienda but if you want fresher you go to a “verdureria”, a place where fruits and vegetables are sold. Here in the hood we also have a business dedicated to selling chicken and only chicken, there is a butcher shop too, you can buy chicken here as well, but for better quality and freshness, you go to your “polleria”, the place dedicated to selling chicken.
One more thing ubiquitous in older neighborhoods in Guatemala are “panaderias”, local bakeries. Guatemalas eat a lot of bread; for breakfast, late lunch or the afternoon coffee break, but Guatemalans got to have the freshest bread. At these panaderias they bake bread twice a day, no Guatemala likes to eat morning bread with their afternoon coffee. It has to be freshly made!
Oh, you can buy bread at your local tienda too, but always fresher at the panaderia.

The Hood

Friday, April 25th, 2014

I’m starting a photographic series of my neighborhood.

I’ll start with the sports fields.

Most new residential complexes here in Guatemala lack parks and recreation areas, well; a lot of newer housing projects call “parks” to some small patches of grass and a few recently planted trees.

The old neighborhoods were known to have large parks and recreation areas. Where I live is one of them. We are lucky enough to have a full size soccer field -which I’ve never seen being used-, we have a basketball yard, which is used as a “papi futbol” a version of soccer played on a smaller yard and played very fast, and we have a good size park full of old trees and large areas of grass.

I still don’t know the details of the papi futbol season, but last few days I’ve seen games being played there, and today I had to go check them out.

Games are played at night because many of the players can only do so after work hours.

Stone Church

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

A quick story for you

Early last year, I ventured into a mountain on the highlands of Guatemala. I went solo, as I am use to. A friend who lives in the town near by told me about this sacred Mayan site, though she had never been there. I walk for a few miles on a dirt road with not one single vehicle transiting the area. There is no mark path to this sacred site. I was lucky enough to have found local campesinos -peasants- who kept telling me where to turn to find the path to the site. It was not easy, directions where: “enter the mountain when you see a large avocado tree” and things like that..

After a couple of miles into the moutain, after leaving the dirt road, I was completely disoriented. There is no clear way to get there, the site is sacred to followers of Mayan rituals and traditions, not widely accepted. By pure chance I stumbled upon three peasant cutting firewood and I asked for directions: “No va a encontrar el camino, porque no esta muy marcado el sendero.” you are not going to find your way because the path is not distinguishable. they talked to each other for a few seconds in their native language and they tell me: Nosotros lo llevamos, We will take you there.

It wasn’t any close, we had to hiked on trails no apt for inexperienced hikers but we got there.

the name of the sacred stone translates to something like Stone Church, Ab ‘ej.

City of Paranoia

Monday, April 21st, 2014

A few months back I went to some Real Estate offices at one of the most affluent areas of this city of ours, at the security checkpoint one has to surrender one’s National ID and you are given a card that grants you access only to the elavator to that specific office.
A few weeks ago I joined a gym and to enter the installations you have to be fingerprinted and you have to enter a unique numeric code.
Come on! This is a gym, not a WMD facility…


Lunar Eclipse

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

This is how we saw the Lunar Eclipse last night here in Guatemala. Weather gave us a brief window of time before clouds dominated the skies again.

The Moon and Spica.

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

Guatemalan Humor

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Last week I went to Huelga de dolores and bought myself a copy of the University’s news paper wich I found hilarious.
This is Spanish, si you’ll have to try your skills. .


La Huelga de Todos los Dolores del Pueblo de Guatemala

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Or Huelga de Dolores for short, is a long standing Guatemalan tradition since 1898. It is a parade mocking, insulting government, public figures and anything or anyone that deserves it.

Now days it is a drinking fest, where drinking is not just allow, in fact, it is encouraged!
A lot of the themes and slogans are only understood under a local context, but they still fun and entertaining. No reservations or censorship going on here, anything goes…

Desfile Bufo

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Today is Guatemala City’s Desfile Bufo, a parade by San Carlos University students.
The parade is a social protest against the establishment and the oligarchy that has controlled this country since colonial times.
I’ll have more phoyographs at the end of the parade.


Religious Procession

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Aren’t Guatemalans very clever!?
If you are tired of standing up watching the many religious processions going on these days, you can rent one of these for Q5/$.70 cents.