Posts Tagged ‘Guatemalan Society’

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!?

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 them 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.

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!

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.

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

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.

Guatemalan Children

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Don’t you love the innocence of our newest generations. (!?)
This is another of the fine ways our children get some peaceful distractions here in these suburbs.
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Guatemalans love affair with brand names

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Guatemalans who lived in Urban Centers love to display, show off brand names on their apparel, it seems like a cultural obsession with brand names, and this store I saw yesterday captures it with its name. Brandname Charades.
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Marimba Day, Guatemala

Friday, February 21st, 2014

In 1995, The Marimba was declared Guatemala’s National Instrument and Feb 20th its commemorative day.
Here are some photograph of the outdoor concert at Plaza Mayor, Downtown Guatemala City to commemorate Marimba Day.


Marimba dancing

Want to see how to dance Marimba? Check out this handsome couple:

Edecánes

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Ladies, I think those umbrellas are not going to cover much, in fact, I don’t think anything you are wearing is going to cover much.
Edecánes, or Models, are the most common way of promoting a brand or an event here in Guatemala. The more provocative the better.
I got an interesting story about it. Guatemalan Government has an official State Radio station, supposed to promote Culture.
Last year I went to a bicycle event; Vuelta al Mundo Maya, and of course, the chosen way of the State Radio Station to promote “culture” at this event was a tall, blonde female edecán.
Oh, by the way, the word edecán is being misused here in Guatemala, the Castillian definition of the word is not close to the usage given here.
edecán

Guatemalans’ Campfire Stories: UFOs

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

UFOs
By a respected Guatemalan Mountaineer

I friend of mine and I were on a very long hike on the mountain range. This is a beautiful hike, you get to walk on this mountain pass where to your left and right you have an open view of the low lands.
We were walking here when we noticed a strange shape light on the sky on or right side. It was a cylindrical shape, it was static, it did not move, which seemed very strange for us. We were staring at it for a while and all of the sudden it starts moving away very fast and it disappears in the distance.
We were shock by the experience we had to stop walking and just lay on the grass for a little while.
Later we pickup ourselves and keep on walking. Not much later we once again see something in the sky. This time there we two identical lights, cylindrical in shape too, on the sky above us.
We stare at the lights and we witnessed a beam of light emitted by one of the lights towards the other light. And not long after that event, the two lights disappear.
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