Archive for June, 2014

Island of Flores

Monday, June 30th, 2014

The Island of Flores Petén

If there would be a Sin City in Guatemala, the City Island of Flores fits the bill.
The Island island is not big at all: you can walk its longest side in less than 15 minutes, but somehow, this small island has one of the most bars and restaurants per capita I’ve ever seen.
There is no drinking regulations, you can drink everywhere: the malecon, the bridge, the streets, or at a rooftop with minimal safety barriers.
You can even drink your beer next a group of police officers with all liberty.
The food quality in the island is great and you have many choices. And this is one of the last places in Guatemala where you can find exotic meats at a restaurant.
There are plenty of accommodations, from all price ranges. You can find hotels that go for $200 per night or those at Q25 per night ($3.5).
Eating at Las Mesitas.
Las Mesitas (small tables) are set on the side walk at the Malecon
Here you can find cheap snacks and local soft drinks. A great place for those night cravings after a day of touring the island. Get some “Tostadas” here, they are 3 for Q10 and they are very tasty.

Flores Peten

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

I’m spending the night at this beautiful hotel, Posada Don Jose, in the City Island of Flores.
So peaceful and beautiful here, you would wish you didn’t have to leave.
I heard about a restaurant that serves exotic meats -Tepesquintle among others- l will try to find it and I will have a verdict for
you all tomorrow.

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San Marcos Delights

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

San Marcos is a Guatemalan province bordering Mexico. Land of contrast, at one edge it touches the Pacific Ocean, at the other end is the land of Guatemala’s two highest Volcanoes, Tajumulco and Tacana.

Living a urban life in this globalized economy deprives you of many things. Like me, many people rely on supermarkets to get their groceries, where most of the foods are treated with preservatives, hormones, etc., fruits and vegetables are full of pesticides and who knows what.

That’s why I once a month I get a fresh delivery from San Marcos.
San Marcos has a terroir perfect for growing apples, though this has not been exploited at a commercial level. There are apple trees on a lot of house and they are completely free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. You can’t get better than this! There is not a big variety of apples but I like those one can get, they are a little acidic, and that’s how I like them.

Getting fresh cheese, free of preservatives and other unnatural ingredients is rather a luxury here in the city.
That’s why I have a freshly made cheese delivered from San Marcos. They don’t use artificial coagulant in the cheese making process, they use a live culture from the cow’s stomach. Yeah, I’ve seen the entire process and that’s why I love it. And when it is done, it is wrapped on plantain leaves.

Habas, Broad Beans -Vicia Faba-
are grown on the highlands. Once dried on the patios or the roofs, they get place on the stove to roast. Your remove the hard and burned skin and bite the hard inner part. They are full of proteins and other goodies for your body. Surprisingly, we don’t see “Habas” in Guatemala City. For some reason they don’t get commercialized here, despite San Marcos producing tons them.

San Marcos is one of the main producer of potatoes in Guatemala.
Buying your potatoes from a supermarket is not the same as getting a bag of freshly harvested potatoes from San Marcos, and these ones are free of pesticides and preservatives; directly from the land to my fridge.

And my fav: Tortillas de Harina
These flour tortillas are somewhat unique to San Marcos, well, I’ve not seen them made like this anywhere else yet.
They make these large flour tortillas with a very simple mixture of water, flour, free roaming hen eggs, salt and sugar.
they are left on the “comal” (hotplate) until they are crisp.

All this makes me wonder: Why the hell am I living in Guatemala City?

A Guatemalan Wedding

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Guatemalan Modern Society does not show many traces of an independently developed culture, many of the religious rituals, celebrations, etc. are offspring of the colonizers. When you attend a Guatemalan birthday, a graduation, a wedding, you’ll feel like it could be in any European, Western country; the music, the food, the ambiance: true, in Guatemala City, middle class Guatemalans rather sign the happy birthday song in English.
I’m glad there are the indigenous people who refuse to leave their customs.
They’ll attend a wedding wearing their regional güipil (Mayan Dress), despite the rest of the attendees wearing formal Westernized clothing.
I attended a wedding this last Saturday and I was a witness to this cultural phenomena, and in fact, I saw an elderly man carrying his belongings in a “Sute” a large colorful fabric that wraps around them.
If it wasn’t for these little details, many times unnoticed, the even’t would’t have had that Guatemalan touch.

Gastronomy from Petén

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Las Mesitas Festival Gastronomico

Las Mesitas Festival Gastronomico

Allow me to show you something that got me very excited today!
I found a small note on a gastronomic festival in Petén, Guatemala’s largest province and with the largest remaining forests.

I’ll sum it up for you

In the spring of 1525, Hernan Cortes (one of the Conquistadors) army en route to Honduras crossed the Petén region, where they were fed by the surrounding jungle; they ate Zapotes. In Tayazal, capitol city of the Itza they were invited by King Canek to a banquet where they ate palmito soup, coshan asado, empanadas de siquinche, tamales, bollitos de chaya, caldo de chayuco, tortillas de ramon mixed with majunches, deer meat, tepezquintle, armadillo, iguana, pizote, mapache, wild boar and different birds meat and local fish and of course frijoles (beans) to finish the meal with a local tobacco cigar.
In 1847, as a result of a war in the Yucatan Peninsula, there was a migration to the Petén lands from the Yucatan, and this came to influence Petén’s gastronomy: Stomach (cow’s) bouillon, gallina en col, gandinga, estofado, salpicon, escabeche de costilla de cerdo (pig’s rib), tepezcuintle en pibil (barbecue), atole de macal, biscotela, longaniza, etc.

This 7 December, in the towns of Flores, and San Francisco, Petén, there is a gastronomic festival called Las Mesitas, where you can find all kinds of these regional dishes and drinks.

From Guatemala’s news paper Prensa Libre.

The only thing I have to regret is not having known about this gastronomic festival last December I was in Petén.
For sure I will not miss this one. Who’s coming!?

A Country with no Regulations

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

This country of ours has a lot of unenforceable regulations, in fact, a telecommunications company can have a cellphone antenna installed on your neighbor’s property, less than 30 feet from ones house, an there is nothing one can do about it. No, there is no neighbors compliance necessary.

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Keeping Guatemalan Fit

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Local municipalities have implemented these free aerobics classes on the barrios and neighborhoods of Guatemala City.  Instructors use local parks, they show up six days a week and usually start at 5am and the sessions last about two hours.
How’s yout local government keeping you  fit.

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Tight Security

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Security measures are very tight here in Guatemala.
Most (all?) formal business usually have armed personnel guarding their entrance; you’ll see them everywhere.
Security measures are so strict, even at your local supermarket you’ll have four watchtowers, one at every corner, keeping an eye over the parking lot.
Yes! Your groceries are safe here in Guatemala!

Supermarket's watchtower

Supermarket’s watchtower

World Cup Fever

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Soccer World Cup has arrive and Guatemala’s street vendors don’t miss a chance to make a sale.

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Mountain Biking in Guatemala

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

As I’ve said before, cycling is the new trend in Guatemala. There are dozens of cycling events every week.
Today I joined a small group of riders and they took me through some rural roads of the province of Sacatepéquez, near La Antigua Guatemala.
Guatemala has an amazing terrain for this sport, there are hundreds of mountain passes and roads made and used by campesinos and they are great for mountain bikes! And the view and clean air is a plus.
Oh, and something that would only happen in Guatemala; this is the only place in the world where you can go mountain biking on one of these campesino’s dirt roads and find an ice cream truck (pickup), announcing ice cream through the loud speakers.
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The Ride

The Ride

Shuco Eating Contest

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Yesterday was Guatemala’s first Shuco eating contest.
What are shucos? Shucos are a variation of hot dogs; they are much larger and are prepared with different meats and or cold cuts.
Shuco is a Guatemalan slang word for dirty, and there is a story behind the name.
A young female who used to frequent this area of Guatemala City, where shucos are sold in every corner, was once invited to try them “hot dogs” or “panes”, she replied with disgust: I’m not eating that, they are so “shucos” dirty!
Every time she was in the area, the people who sold them shucos asked her if she wanted to try them shucos, and eventually she decided to try them and she loved them! From then on the name Shuco was used to refer to them.
It was a difficult fight! The winner ended up eating ten of these fully loaded shucos. There were 10 people on second places, they managed to eat 9 of them.
How many can you handle?
Oh, by the way, shucos for the contest came fully loaded with steamed cabbage, guacamole, mayonnaise, mustard and the sausages.