Archive for May, 2014

La Puya

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Mining for minerals has become a hot topic here in Guatemala. I’m not here to either support or show discontent with it. Here is what I saw.
A lot of individuals and some academic circles would render the intentions of people who oppose mining as biased and influenced by foreigners. Guatemalan media and social chatter constantly suggest the presence of these foreigners as infiltrators and instigators. And a lot of times people who partake in this anti mining efforts are often called “terrorist” by the people who favor it.
Well, the only foreigners I saw here where a couple who rode the same bus I did, and they were there only to see what was going on.

Two years of peaceful disobedience.
People at La Puya have been protesting against the mine for two years. They have set a campsite on the side of the road by the entrance to the mine.
Last week, these peaceful protesters were violently evicted from the area, and during this eviction several people, including children, were hurt.
I was told of a man who got his leg broken by a tear gas canister fired at point blank. Another woman had a bruise about 5 inches in diameter, again from a tear gas canister.

No, these people are not infiltrated by foreign instigators, no, these are people who are aware of the “presumed” damage mining operations can cause to their immediate health and way of life.

Laguna del Pino

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Laguna del Pino is a beautiful and peaceful lagoon, less than an hour drive from Guatemala City.
Its waters are calm and clean, so clear you can see the bottom, even from the deepest point.
The water is perfect for swimming, though I would advice not venturing way off shore, there are a lot of seaweeds and one can easily get tangle up with them.
There is a healthy population of fish here, and on weekends, local fishermen offer their daily catch to visitors for a great price. There are large prawns too, they look delicious, I really hate I was not ready for cooking. Local children were catching them and they had a plastic bag full of them. I’ll try them next time I visit the area.
This place is great for a family barbecue, rafting or canoeing, or my favorite; snorkeling. Oh, and if you do snorkeling, you can catch lots of mollusk for a great soup or ceviche.
Enjoy!

Peaceful Resistence Against Mining

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Today I’m spending the day at La Puya, a mining operation source of a  social conflict with local population.
I’ll havr a better account of what’s going on here witg tomorrow’s post.

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Museo Numismatico de Guatemala

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Today I went to run some errands and on my way back, staring through the metro’s window at one of the stations I see this big sign saying “Free Entrance”, and of course I had to quickly get out of the metro and check out this numismatic museum.

The museum is a bit small, you can walk the entire expo in less than 15 minutes, perfect for a quick stop. You’ll love that the expositions has the information in Spanish and English as well.

Too bad there were no photographs allowed inside. And no free samples: Damn Bastards! Oh, one of the displays is missing a 50 Quetzals bill, you know you are in Guatemala!

To get to the museum is very easy; its in front of the Banco de Guatemala stop of the metro system.

Oh, something I learnt at the museum; when the country became independent from the Spaniard Crown, we kept the existing governing structure, in fact the same personnel was running the institution. So much about independence….

Museo Numismatico de Guatemala

Museo Numismatico de Guatemala

Cycling

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Cycling is the new trend in Guatemala.
Every week there are about a dozen events for cyclists, from beginners to advance and pros. Some of these events are organized by local municipalities and some others are small private efforts.
Last night there was a fast ride for advance and pro riders, organized by Ciclovida Urbana -a small and independent bicycle store- a good 35ish miles ride going from side to side of Guatemala City.
A lot of the cycling events are design to promote bicycle riding as a safe commuting way, something much needed in this gas-vehicle saturated city of ours.

There are a few infrastructure project for bicycle riders too; bicycle path are popping out in a lot of place, in fact, there is one being built right outside my neighborhood, a good 1.5 miles one.

The bad

Yes, it is a step on the right directions to have these bicycle paths, but they are just independent patches of cycling infrastructure. The one outside my neighborhood is about 1.5 miles and it connects nowhere. There are much larger paths recently inaugurated on the affluent areas of Guatemala City with the same mistake; connecting nowhere. A lot of times I see these infrastructure plans as plain aesthetics projects.
One more thing, if you stand on the side of one of these bicycle paths, you’ll rarely see bicycle traffic, except for that sporadic rider.

And: One of the things a lot of these campaigns and events to promote the use of bicycles have failed to address is the Guatemalan middle class logic.
I’ve been to dozens of these events and a lot, and sometimes the majority of riders arrive at the event driving their gas consuming vehicles. Come on! if you drive your car to one of these event you are defying the logic of it!
But the worst thing about it is that most of the people who arrive by car live just a few miles from it. Guatemala City and the suburbs aren’t very large, you can ride from any of the suburbs to Downtown Guatemala City and it won’t take you more than an hour.
A couple of months ago I went to one of these event at night, we finish the ride around 10 pm and I rode my bike back home, a good 10 miles. On my ride back I see about a dozens vehicles pass by me with their bikes on their roof rack or trunks. And that’s the logic of the Guatemalan middle class. I honestly think they go to these events not because they really sympathize with the cause or understand its logic, no, they just want to show off or socialize.
Oh, let’s not forget that a car represent social and economic Status in the mind of a Guatemalan. Bicycles were/are the transport of the poor, the peasants and lower classes, fortunately this perception is changing.
And I would even dare to say that these events have not convince 1% of the participants to leave their car at home and ride to work one single day. I hope I’m wrong!

Flor de Izote

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Flor de Izote is the flower of the Yucca Gigantea, an obiquitous plant here in Guatemala.  This flower is a local delight, prepared with curries or bouillons or tamales.
This plant does not flower often or under a determined schedule. I saw this one this morning in my neighborhood while I went to run so errands. When I came back an hour later, there was already  someone cutting it down.

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Religion

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Guatemala has a very religious population.  This religiosity is present everywhere, when you ride a chicken bus, often you’ll have someone preaching on the bus, when you ride the metro system you are handed material with religious connotations by municipality personel.

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El Gallito

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Here is a photograph of something no one dares to.
El Gallito is Guatemala City’s most infamous neighborhood; access streets have been barricaded, there are only a handful of access points, no even Guatemala’s army would dare venturing inside. The neighborhood is said to be controlled by narcotraffickers and gans, in fact; it is said to be split in two areas: Las Calaveras, the area controlled by gans and on the other side the traffickers, a much safer one and discreet.

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Hot Dogs El Chino

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Hot Dogs El Chino is Guatemala City’s most famous hot dogs joint.
Of course no one calls them by their given name, they called them Shucos de Liceo, Shuco being a slang for hot dog and Liceo is very famous college across the street.
They are delicious and can’t get any better for less than $3.

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No horses allowed any more.

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Public power outlet

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

I’ve seen things like these in several towns in Guatemala.  This one is on the docks of Monterrico, Guatemala’s largest Mangle reserves. Now you don’t have to worry about running out of juice…

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El día que Teco Temió, at Teatro Don Juan

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Teatro Don Juan is conveniently located next to Palacio Nacional on Zone 1 of Guatemala City.
They have featured the comedy El día que Teco Temió for a little while and I always wanted to go see it.
The name of the comedy is a play of words roughly translated as The Day Teco feared, or as The Day Teco Pissed on You.

I have an acquaintance who is an actor who works for a small theater in Zone 1 and he tells me things are not great for them, most of the time there are only a handful of spectators in the audience, but this time, for this comedy the theater had fulled its capacity.

I highly recommend this play, but I must tell you that it will challenge your command of this Castilian language with all its Guatemalan variables.

Guatemala City’s Bicitour Nocturno

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Last night I went to Guatemala City’s night bicycle tour.
An event to motivate people to use bicycles as primary commuting method.
Rain was constant all afternoon and there were rumors that the event would be canceled due to the rains, in fact, a lot of riders left the meeting point believing the ride was canceled.

A few of us, may five hundred riders, remained. The ride was to start at 7 pm, we waited until 7:50 and the ride was on!
I had no chance to take photographs of the ride because the rain did not give us a break, but I managed to take a photo after the event when the rain finally stopped.

I’m glad there are enough people out there who are truly passionate about cycling, no rain would stop them!

Oh, by the way, the sandwiches and apples offered courtesy of the local municipality was a great touch and thanks to one of the sponsor, Eli got several free bottles of iced tea.

Guatemala City's Bicitour Nocturno

Guatemala City’s Bicitour Nocturno

Bicitour Nocturno Guatemala

Bicitour Nocturno Guatemala