Posts Tagged ‘history’

Tres Pueblos, by Proyeccion Folklorica Zoel Valdes

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

First Act depicts the daily life and dancing of the Chorti People, an ethnic group of Mayan origin.

Second act depicts life and dancing of the Garifuna People, brought to the country as slaves during colonial times.

Third act is about Day of the Death and kite flying. For Mayan people, the flight of kites symbolizes the journey of relatives soul to the after life. If the kite flies high; it means the soul is ascending to heaven. If the kite is having trouble gaining altitude and stability; it means the soul is going to the purgatory. And if the kite fails to lift or dives down, it means the soul is going to hell. Think about it next time you see them kites.

The Artists:

Proyección Folklórica Zoel Valdés at Teatro Abril

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Actors of Proyección Folklórica Zoel Valdés, founded by Professor and Folklorist Zoel Arturo Valdés Molina, with 35 years of experience interpreting Guatemalan Folklore and Traditions.
It was a three acts play. I’ll have more photos tomorrow.
Young Casting

Food

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

While living in the States, a couple of years ago I was following the news of a former Guatemalan President being detained and sent to prison for several charges. One of the images on Guatemalan TV news was one that really called my attention. It was this congress man going to visit former El Presidente to jail, congressman brings a couple of bags of something I could not distinguish. I asked my now fiance if she new what that was, she tells me “That’s Pollo Brujo!”. Since then, I’ve been craving to try that.
And here it is! It is very tasty and healty, not over seasoned and it is chard broiled. Very simple but tasty, got to top it with some lime juice and it is perfect. Good enough for an imprisoned Presidente, good enough for Eli.
Enjoy.
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Che Guevara

Friday, October 25th, 2013

A very controversial figure. Loved by many, hated by others.
This mural is at Plaza del Guerrillero Heroico at Universidad De San Carlos de Guatemala.
Plaza Guerrillero

October 20th

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Here is a gallery of a October 20th march, commemorating The revolution of 1944. The revolution of 1944 overthrew and bloody dictator and embarked us on a brief democratic period and deep political reforms, until a CIA backed coup d’état overthrew the elected president of Guatemala, which put in place another dictator. For a brief history, checkout AntiguaDailyPhoto.com and an interesting post on the 1944 revolution.
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October 20th

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

I went out on a bicycle ride and on my way i encountered a march. History of today’s and complete commentary later today.

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Progress. (?)

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

A great deal of Guatemalans usually mistake Progress and or Development with Urbanization.
Progress –implying Urbanizing- is good, houses, shopping malls, hydroelectric plants, etc. are better than useless patches of dirt. That’s the common mindset.
As I child I lived in front of this small patch of forest, one of the few close to Guatemala City. I used to frequent this forest with friends in search for local fruits: Jocotes, Sandia de Raton (mouse melon, Melothria Scabra), Matasanos (white sapote) and others. As children we used to disturb squirrels (one of the very few places around Guatemala City where they USED TO live wild) and hunted for small tortoise and birds. I know, we were bad!
I left Guatemala and came back seven years later and found a shopping mall had been built (now a Walmart)
I left Guatemala shortly after to comeback eight years later and encountered a series of new gated communities built where some of the remaining patches of trees were.
I’m a business person: Not long ago I saw a for rent sign on one of the windows of this large strip mall. I call the number and had a long conversation with the Realtor. “This is a great opportunity, see the mountains on the back, all this belongs to the same family and they are planning on building five thousand houses on that mountain. He tells me.
Goodbye remaining trees.
Yes, housing is necessary, as business centers are. Aren’t forest (patches of dirt) needed too?
I often finish these kinds of conversations with friends and acquaintances with the following:
I don’t call progress to stopping or diverting a sacred river to generate electricity so you have enough juice to watch TV tonight.
I don’t call progress to destroying a life and splendor giving forest and its inhabitants to temporarily fix our human housing problems.
Oh, on a funny related note: Many of these housing projects advertise themselves as “green” or “Nature surrounded”, but they fail to say that most of these gated communities refer to their green or Nature to small patches of grass in front of these houses, again: small strips of grass on their boulevards, and many times not even local species of grass or plants.
More: Another “Green Community” I was interested in a while ago, promoted itself as green and surrounded by Nature and on their advertising video they show animations of birds flying around the area instead of real ones: None available?
Progress?
Progress?
Progress?

Quetzalteca

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Quetzalteca Rosa de Jamaica.
This is a very delicious Hibiscus infused liquor. There is an interesting story behind this.
When I left Guatemala, there was just one Quetzalteca -the unflavored one-. I come back and find Rosa de Jamaica, and later a Horchata infused Quetzalteca.
Quetzalteca unflavored was a very inexpensive alcoholic drink, not so great tasting and known to be the drink of choice of the poor, uneducated and your last resort; sort of the Cossack or Popov vodka equivalent in Guatemala.
Not long ago they change their strategy and created these new flavors, gave the brad a more refined appeal and targeted the young crowds.
It did work and to be honest, it is quite delicious. Have a glass next time you are in Guatemala.
Quetzalteca

Beer and Memories of War.

Monday, September 16th, 2013

This dialog was held in Spanish. A lot of the feeling, the pain and sorrow is lost in my translation.
The first time I saw my distant cousin was more than 16 years ago. They lived on a remote, poor farmers community in the province of Huehuetenango, their settlement was very near the Mexican border.
When I met them, we were looking for my aunt. She, at the moment, was not living with them. She was living in Sayaxche Peten. After a couple of days at this humble community, one of my distant cousins volunteers to take us to my aunt’s place in Sayaxche. Getting there on the Guatemala side was very difficult. My cousin tells us is better to cross to the Mexican side (illegally of course) and move faster by bus there. And then, cross back to the Guatemalan side.
16 years later I get to see my cousin once again. Now he lives in Sayaxche, Peten.
After a couple of days of staying at his house, I took him for some beers at a local Tienda (small convenience store).
He did not drink much. I remember him having a glass or two.
Eli of course will have this classic Guatemalan pairing: Cerveza, Limon, Chicharrones (beer, lime and fried porkskins).
We spend the entire evening talking and talking. He tells me about his time living in Huehuetenango. Some of that misery I did witness when we visited them there.
The War:
My cousins were children when the war reached their community. We used to crawl under the tables when we were bombed by the army, he tells me. His eyes are watering.
We were not guerrillas, we had nothing to do with the war, but they were just bombing all the time.
One day we could see smoke coming from a neighboring village. The next day another village was up in flames. Some had survived the slaughter and came to our village seeking refuge. He told us the army was burning everything. “Hicieron matazones” They killed many he tells them.
People at my cousin’s village were not afraid. We had nothing to do with the war, so nothing should happen to us they believed.
A couple of days later another village close by was massacred and burnt to the ground, erase from this Earth.
We are next we were thinking. Horrible accounts were coming from these scorched villages.
A military vanguard arrives and the elders of the village are quick to go meet them and talk to them.
My cousin goes with the group and listens to the conversation. My cousin almost chokes when he telling me this: “They told us: we should not worry because we are not Indians.” People at this poor community were mestizos, a mix of European and Natives descent. The neighboring communities were mostly Mayan and being Mayan sealed their fate.
The Rebels
After the destruction around, patrols of guerrillas would come to our village and ask if we needed anything. They constantly asked us to join them.
I remember a beautiful guerrilla girl. She always came to me, she really wanted me to join them. She told me: come with us and I’ll be your wife. I was considering doing it but my mother would not let me.
The Pacs
The Pacs were a paramilitary force created by the army to “protect” villages against guerrilla incursions.
My cousins relatives were forced into joining them Pacs.
One day my cousin’s brother –just a child- was playing with another child. He takes (steals) a toy from that child and the child goes complaining to his older brother; a member of the PACS. He takes his riffle and shoots my cousin’s brother.
The entire family could not do anything because saying something about the PACS would render you a guerrilla, a communist. For many years this painful memories were kept locked down. Only told after the war, after things were safe and they had moved out of Huehuetenango.
Sayaxché, Petén

Museo Miraflores

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

My fiancée and and I went to Miraflores Mall, a very well known shopping center here in Guatemala City.
She went to see a movie and while I waited for her; I took some time to visit the museum next to the mall.
Of course I have to tell you the good and the bad.
The museum is beautiful and it has a great collection of Mayan artifacts.
The bad: The Museum is connected to the shopping mall, where thousands of people walk in everyday, the entrance fee is a meager Q15/$1.90, cheap enough even for Guatemalan standars. I spent almost two hours walking the museum corridors, reading about the pieces, taking notes and photographs. All this time no other person walked to the museum. I had the entire place for my self. Cm’on! We have inherited an amazing gift. These artifacts are the legacy of a great saga our ancestors experienced and it disappoints me that only a few Guatemalans show interest in learning about it.
Mayan Artifacts, Museo Miraflores

Mayan Artifacts

The Museum

Of Tortillas and our Cultural Strength

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I am very pessimistic when it comes to evaluate our cultural strength. But I have to accept that there are some positive stories out here.

Every one here in Guatemala is familiar with this ubiquitous fried chicken restaurant…

when I left Guatemala more than sixteen years ago, the restaurant had a strict policy of not allowing tortillas in their restaurant: they would not sell them or allow customer to bring them in. Guatemalans have to have tortillas with their meal and they could not stand eating their chicken with bread instead of them tortillas. A lot of times Guatemalan customers would sneak tortillas in to eat their chicken with. Who did not?

Now the restaurant has formally surrendered and even has provided tortilla vendors outside their doors with umbrellas to protect them from Sun and Rain. And as a formal sign of capitulation; they now feature tortillas on their menu!

Oh, by the way, they have a new item on the menu: A Pepian Sandwich. Pepian is a traditional Guatemalan Dish and it is the first time a see a sandwich version with it. I did like it. :D

Tortillas

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?)


Signing of Mayan folk songs in Kaqchikel

Mayan Dance

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

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.