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August 2007

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Flora and Fauna Working Together

This is another shot taken from our garden which shows the harmonious relationship that flora and fauna can have. There are about four or five photos from our garden, a mini-series if we may call it that way, including one that shows some of edible weeds and/or herbs that our very popular in Guatemala. But, first we have to take a break, on September 1st, to be part of the Theme day of Daily Photo Community. The theme for tomorrow is street light or street signs and I have a great capture, with rain and all, from La Antigua Guatemala that show both of them.

Rain Drops over a Nopal Pad Wallpaper

You just have to be a bit more creative with the rain and the white and gray skies. For instance, a visit to our garden for some macro photos gave us this close-up shot of two rain drops on top a nopal penca (cactus pad) to be used as a possible wallpaper for your desktop computer. If you would like other Antigua Guatemala wallpapers for your computer, please, take a look at the wallpapers category. I hope you like options available there. Let me know either way.

Chicken Buses are The Second Life of School Buses

Unless you have taken the path of La Marche de l’empereur, you haven’t heard about how everyone is living a virtual second life through a community web site. Well, old and retired school buses from the U.S. get to live a real second life as camionetas (the street name for public transit buses in Guatemala). Revue Magazine had an in-depth article about The Birth of a Camioneta (available as a PDF download) which detailed step-by-step how an old retired school bus became a powerful camioneta ready for the curvy roads of the mountain ranges of Guatemala.

Surf Shop in La Antigua Guatemala

The waves are getting closer to La Antigua Guatemala. So it is no surprise to find a “surf shop” in a Spanish colonial town embedded between coffee plantations, flower farms and volcanoes.

Actually, you can get straight down to the Pacific Ocean in about 45 to 60 minutes (depends on your safety level while driving) through one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Guatemala, known simply as Carretera 14 (road #14) and then the highway in Escuintla. Two prime beaches for surfing are Monterrico and Sipacate, both of them about two hours from La Antigua Guatemala.

Fish Tank Window

Imagine that instead of having a regular glass window, you could have a fish tank window to see your back yard. That is exactly what they sell here. I like how it almost feels like that fish are swimming in the air around the búcaro (new word for you).

It is nice to have a mellow picture to initiate the week; don’t you think so?

Farmacia Roca Sign in La Antigua Guatemala

Signs, signs, signs I sure do like them. If you browse the Signs category you will find 27 different samples of the many signs that adorn the walls of La Antigua Guatemala. Almost a month worth of signs.

For those of you who have visited La Antigua Guatemala, do you remember this sign and can you tell us more or less where it’s located?

Load of Wood Fuel

Recently while reading the National Geographic en español, I learnt that not all instances of the use of wood as fuel are bad. According the article about barbecuing wood and charcoal do indeed pollute the atmosphere with smoke and ashes, but it is a recycled-type of energy when compared to other energy sources like gas or electricity.

Wanted: New Mayor for La Antigua Guatemala

Calzada Santa Lucí­a gets overcrowded with all the stands of the 11 candidates for the La Antigua Guatemala City Hall or Muni as we call it here. They all have their booths, their chants and songs, their promises, their colors, their flyers, their visual and hearing pollution, their trash, et-cetera.

Coffee Table in La Antigua Guatemala

We are back to coffee beans, again, in the form of table available in the patio area of Fernando’s Kaffee. I believe La Antigua Guatemala is blessed because most days you can have your breakfast in the patio and most patios are so full of gorgeous and exotic (for the rest of the world) plants and flowers. I recommend that you have breakfast and a good cup of coffee at Fernando’s Kaffee if you come to La Antigua Guatemala. For those who only want to have access to this fabulous coffee, Fernando confided in me that very soon, in the next couple of weeks, he will begin exporting his in situs roasted selection of Guatemalan coffee beans. You will be able to order any amount of coffee (starting at 3 pounds, I believe); so keep an eye at coming-soon Fernando’s Kaffee web site.

Guatemalan Kitchen Colors

These are some of the most often used ingredients in the Guatemalan kitchen. This photo was taken on Calle del Arco in front of La Fonda de la Calle Real at a booth that the restaurant put out to showcase their flavors and the ingredients they use in their kitchen. You can take this photo to your local Latin market and start cooking some of the recipes found in this site under the Food and Drinks category. Bon Appetite!

The Three Arches of El Calvario Church

I am glad El Calvario Church provides a nice transition from the white cemetery series back to the rich antigüeño color palette while maintaining the death theme going on. El Calvario or Calvary (Golgotha) is the name of the mount on the outskirts of Jerusalem where it’s believe Jesus Christ was crucified. This church with its three arches provides a symbolic representation of the crucifixion; with each arch representing each cross.

Exiting the San Lázaro Cemetery

It is so peaceful to walk on the tree-lined cobblestone street with benches on the side in your way in or out of the San Lázaro Cemetery. I guess a visit to this cemetery could be a much needed break from the ‘hectic’ strolls around La Antigua Guatemala.

The Solorzano Najera Mausoleum

It must be nice to know your resting place it’s taken care of by a family mausoleum. In the picture above you get a close-up view of the Solorzano Najera family mausoleum. Who are they? Who knows; a random pick by the viewfinder on the way out of the cemetery.

Saint in Niche in San Lazaro Church

One aspect I forgot to mention was that there is full-size church inside the San Lazaro Cemetery in La Antigua Guatemala which I believe goes by the same name. There are some niches in the church façade, just like in many churches around Antigua Guatemala.

Family Mausoleum in San Lázaro Cemetery

JM Magaña, La Antigua Guatemala’s second conservator and the pen behind the architecture column in Recrearte Magazine, pointed out that until 1976 La Antigua Guatemala was painted all white too. At the time the cemetery was created in the 1800s, there were a couple waves of plagues and thus every thing was white-washed with live limestone to disinfect and maintain the town virus free. This coincided with the introduction of coffee in 1875 (more or less) and thus an abundance of wealth which provided the necessary fund to build all those mausoleums. There was a massive earthquake that hit Guatemala in 1976 and destroyed a great deal of buildings and houses in Guatemala. In fact, it is said that the 1976 earthquake changed forever the look and feel of Guatemala. La Antigua Guatemala was not saved and thus reconstruction began after the quake and with it, the color lime-stone paint came. This change in color did not reach the cemetery.

6-column Façade Mausoleum in San Lázaro Cemetery

When I decided to enter the cemetery of San Lázaro I was expecting a very chaotic cemetery full of the antigüeño color palette with many crypts and above grounds burial chambers and perhaps some mausoleums. Surprise, surprise! The only color was provided by the many flower arrangements, there were mostly mausoleums, some nichos (above grounds crypts) and just a few crypts.

Crypts in San Lázaro Cemetery

The only underground crypts that I saw in the San Lázaro Cemetery in La Antigua Guatemala are in this green lot, located all the way in the rear of the cemetery. These crypts are in the west end of the cemetery and thus protected, somehow, from floods by the many mausoleums in the front of the cemetery. Wealth could also be factor. This lot represents a very small percentage of the size of the cemetery, so I believe, this section is allocated for the very poor. Once again, the white color is present in las tumbas (tombs) and it is very rare for a Latin American cemetery to only be painted in white. The mystery continues…

You’re Not Dead Until You’re Forgotten

Guatemala’s real culture is syncretism and thus death plays an important role in traditions and culture. Guatemala is the real ‘melting pot’ and the final product is called mestizo. A mestizo is an individual that comes in many shades of brown and she is made up from a combination of AmerIndian, European, African, Asian and Arab. Syncretism and mestizism go together well and that is why there is no conflict with including some or many Mayan rituals, including death rituals, in a everyday Catholic or Christian service. Obviously, a single entry is not enough to describe such a complex human being, but we have to start somewhere and since Patsy Poor mentioned that recent studies showed that the U.S. will be brown (mestizo) in 50 years. 😉

Niche Market in La Antigua Guatemala

No, I don’t think you were thinking about this niche market. Although these kind of niches are the origin for the concept of niche market. Well, the play on words may not work completely in English as it does in Spanish. Nicho is the Spanish term for niche and it applies to the market place, to an architectural recess, a niche can be applied to a hollow, crack, crevice, or foothold, and from there to hollow structured pictured above to receive the dead.

Welcome to the City of the Dead

The San Lázaro Cemetery mimics the La Antigua Guatemala, with its many mausoleums. Walking around feels like walking around the City of the Dead.

Tree-lined Cemetery pathway in La Antigua Guatemala

The San Lázaro Cemetery is characterized by its many white mausoleums and tree-lined pathways. I have visited and photographed several cemeteries in Guatemala and México and this is the first time I see such clean and organized cemetery. It almost doesn’t feel like a Latin American cemetery until you begin to see the Antigüeño last names on the family mausoleums. Perhaps, this is the cemetery for the wealthy families of La Antigua Guatemala.

San Lázaro General Cemetery

This photograph marks the beginning of the San Lázaro Cemetery series. I know Friday is a weird day to start a series, but since most people visit the cemetery on the weekends, I guess it’s okay. I have to warn you about the series though. This cemetery is not exceptional and quite frankly a little boring since it is mostly white. So, don’t expect any extraordinary or exotic shots.