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September 2007

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Typical Post Card from La Antigua Guatemala

I am not too fond of post cards shots, but I do get them too every once in a while. So, please tell me you will come back tomorrow; I promise to stay away from post card images. I promise!

Don’t Take Pictures…

Even though La Antigua Guatemala is a very photogenic town and that is virtually impossible to take a bad photo of this …


Sometimes bad things turn good. Guatemala’s postal service is so slow, expensive and unreliable that in Guatemala the concept of junk mail …

Alto, watch this corner…

Anyhow, I really like the rhythm of the image above. I like all the different actions of the people, almost totally unaware of the camera. Honestly, I am very happy with this particular photograph. I feel it captures, very well, the essence of an usual street scene in La Antigua Guatemala. For those of you who visited this colonial town, what is your opinion?

Old Wall with Electric Meter Desktop Wallpaper

Here is yet another textured old wall that can be used as wallpaper or desktop image in your computer. This image even includes the electric meter so you can keep a log of how much electricity you are using while in front of your computer. 😉

Remember that you can also browse the Wallpapers category for another 7 images of La Antigua Guatemala that can be used as wallpaper or desktop images for your desktop PC, Mac or Linux workstation. To download the images as wallpapers, all you need to do is click the photos in this site and you will be taken to a larger-size image (1600í—1200) that you can download. The rest depends on the operating system you use.

Transnational: Eat fresh

I think this Subway franchise will have to use its second slogan: The Way A Sandwich Should Be because the Eat fresh may not work in a place like Antigua Guatemala, where most places serve REAL fresh food. With all of these transnational fast-food restaurants in La Antigua Guatemala, we still have to make a run for the border or drive to Guatemala City if we’d like to think outside the bun while enjoying a bean and cheese burrito.

Hotel Arizona Doorway

The La Antigua Guatemala city ordinances requires that the name of businesses be in Spanish. Some business have dual names like Rainbow Cafe which was forced to change to Café Arcoiris (although they kept Rainbow Cafe at a smaller size within the sign). Backpackers Hotel became Mochileros Hotel and so on. For the most part, I agree with this city ordinance because the La Antigua Guatemala is protected by national and international laws since it was declared by UNESCO as World Heritage.

Jungle Party Sign in Antigua

Okay, I don’t have much to say today. Or, rather there’s plenty to say, but not enough time to write it up. So, we take a break and pleasure in a soothing image of dog enjoying the late afternoon rain.

Best wishes for the upcoming weekend, everyone!

The Guatemalan Flag Should Be This Blue…

Thanks to our resourceful readers now we know exactly what shade of blue should the Guatemalan Flag should be. Manolo provided us with the exact Guatemalan Congress Act 104-97, available as a PDF download, which determines the color blue as ISCC-NBS 177. Then, Manolo, who felt like procrastinating, decided that ISCC-NBS 177 was not something most people could understand as Celestial Blue, so he gave us a web site address where we could look at the specific shade of blue. He went even futher, and submitted the HTML codes #4285B4 and #4997D0 for the Guatemalan flag blue. Xensen, took this information and came back with Pantone Matching System 297 and 298 and a link to get an idea of the color. So with all this information at our disposal, we now know what the official blue should be used in the Guatemalan Flag (like the photo below). But, like I said yesterday, “… Reality dictates that the Guatemalan flag can be blue, any blue really, with or without the emblem or coat of arms.”

What Shade of Blue is the Guatemalan Flag?

Well, who knows really. I know there’s legislation which describes to the T what a Guatemalan flag is supposed to look like, but like always in Guatemala, laws are beautiful abstract texts that live inside very dusty books. Reality dictates that the Guatemalan flag can be blue, any blue really, with or without the emblem or coat of arms.

Antigüeño Breakfast at Rainbow Cafe

The Guatemalan Writers Side Note:
For being such a tiny banana/coffee writers republic, Guatemala does produce and export quite a few good writers. I have mentioned some of them in this site like Luis Cardoza y Aragón, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Enrique Gómez Carrillo, Pepe Milla, Ronald Flores. But, I have not done enough to talk about the great Guatemalan Literature written by its many excellent writers. Thanks to a comment by Coltrane_Lives about the possibility of his adopted Guatemalan daughter becoming a writer, I can point out a great Guatemalan novel written in English by Francisco Goldman, a respected journalist whose work appears often in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books and Harper’s (source: [ES]). “Francisco Goldman won accolades and international recognition with his extraordinary first novel, The Long Night of White Chickens, the winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts… ” (source: Another great contemporary novel is Ruido de fondo (background noise) by my dear friend Javier Payeras. Javier Payeras is one of the clearest and loudest voices of this generation and his poetry and prose has won the recognition in and outside Guatemala. Ruido de fondo has been reissued by the Guatemala’s Government Editorial Cultura to be required reading for High School students in Guatemala. For those who are fluent in Spanish, I leave the link to one of my favorites poems by Payeras: Soledadbrother.

Tropical Fruits Guatemalan Breakfast

I guess you can have a breakfast like the one pictured above just about anywhere in the world since these tropical fruits are shipped everywhere now. This breakfast, however, was made from fresh fruits grown and harvested within an hour or so from La Antigua Guatemala; with luck the fruits were picked the day before.

Guatemalan Independence Day 2007 Slideshow and Video

I haven’t seen the film yet, but the title alone is hauntingly enough, for me, to make me want to see it. Live and become could be the short answer for those searching how to make a Guatemalan from a newly adopted baby. With that in mind, I leave you a short slide show and a video clip of the activities around the Guatemalan Independence Day.

I dedicate these photos, video and sounds to all my Guatemalan readers living abroad; may these vistas bring you home for a little while.

Nightly Parade on Independence Day

A simple snapshot of a nightly parade on Independence Day in La Antigua Guatemala. I have lots of photos and videos to process and not much time to write a lot at this moment. Stay tune for the full coverage of the Independence Day in Guatemala.

The Spanish-style roof tiles in Compañí­a de Jesús

Elsewhere in La Antigua Guatemala, there is all kinds of Independence activities, similar to what I showed you last year. Today and tomorrow will be filled with patriotic sounds coming from the many students school bands and their parades, as well as the many Independence marathons which carry the patriotic fire in their torches back to their communities and villages. I will try to get at least some different shots of the activities, if work allows it. In the meantime, you can get a feel for the festive and noisy atmosphere we live now in La Antigua Guatemala by checking the entries below.

Framed Head in Compañí­a de Jesús

Back to the Compañí­a de Jesús building to see the photo exhibit Punto de fuga by some of my favorite photo journalists: Sandra Sebastián, Moisés Castillo and Andrea Aragón. Since I had promised to come back to this magnificent example of antigüeño architecture and show it to you, I took a few more shots. This window frame is the first of this mini-series or the continuation of the Compañí­a de Jesús building series. Either way, let me know what you think of it. Boy, La Antigua Guatemala is so full of these wonderful vistas.

Guatemalans Voted in National Elections on September 9th

People were pointed to their voting centers by a mailed slip with the information or by visiting one of citizens’ registration booths made available by the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (Electoral Supreme Tribunal). At the voting centers, people were oriented by the posters with table numbers and voting registration number (número de empadronamiento in Spanish). Once the voters had the right table, they walked to the queue and waiting their voting turn. At their turn, they approached the table where they had to show their cédulas (Identification card) and they were asked to repeat some of the information in their cédulas. Their voting registration number was checked against the logbooks provided by Tribunal Supremo Electoral. If all checked correctly, voters were given four ballots: One for city mayor, another for regional congress seats, another national congress seats and the last one for president and vice-president. With the four ballots and a crayon, voters walked to the voting booth and marked their election and walked back to the voting table to deposit their ballots in the urnas (ballot transparent bags). After that, voters had to sign the voting registration logbooks and their cédula was given back and their pointing finger marked with indelible ink. Basically, this is the voting process in Guatemala.

Guatemalan Flags in Banco Industrial

The photo above was taken on August 31st, which was a payday and that is why you see all those people were queuing to get their salary from the banks. Tomorrow, Guatemalans will be queuing again to cast their vote. Also, this was the first time (this year) I noticed the Guatemalan flags that will adorn the buildings through September, which is the independence month. Guatemala’s so called independence from Spain is celebrated on September 15th. Check out the Independence Day Slideshow from last year.

I read recently (I don’t recall where at the moment) that to be truly independent a country must have sufficient wealth as to not have to depend on an outsider (duh!); well, let me break it to you guys, Guatemala has not been an independent country for the last 500 years or so. When I was teenager, I remember reading a Mafalda anthology where Mafalda was reading a history book and all of sudden she screams: You mean we were part of Spain, who the hell had the bright idea of independizarnos (freed us from Spain)! Back then, I laughed so hard at the comic strip, but just now I get the joke. Thanks Quino. 🙁

La Tienda de Doña Gavi Sign

We continue with “the sign fetish” and today’s turn is for La Tienda de Doña Gavi sign. Believe it or not, this tiny store is one of La Antigua Guatemala landmarks and it’s located on the street behind the Cathedral. Doña Gavi sells all kinds of organic stuff in this cozy shop including avocado ice cream. If you come to Antigua, you must visit this shop. If you don’t trust my recommendation, read the On the Road Travel recommendation below:

Porta Hotel Antigua Parking Lot Sign

I am a sucker for signs and La Antigua Guatemala has an amazing palette of signs made from wood, ceramic tiles, metal, paint, glass, etc. Perhaps, I am sensitive to signs because of my graphic design background or maybe because I am sign junkie. I like the colors, the materials and sometimes simply the typography used. The sign above is made from metal, welded together and installed at entrance of the parking lot of Porta Hotel Antigua with a gorgeous hand-made typeface. Sorry, I said I am sign addict and since I try to show you what one is expected to find while strolling around Antigua Guatemala.

Old and Rusted Metal Wheels

In La Antigua Guatemala you’ll never know what can you find in a driveway or doorway as you walk by. Here I found these two old metal wheels which probably belonged to an old horse-carriage… really who knows, but here they are. Can you guys suggest what these wheels were used for in the past?

Guatemala’s General Elections Will Be on September 9th

This coming Sunday Guatemala will be holding general elections for president, vice-president, congress curule seats, and city mayors throughout the country. It is sad to read the news feeds and news headlines regarding Guatemala. It seems like this tiny ‘paradisiac’ banana coffee republic has an innate quality to generate bad press. Like Tarzan, Guatemala jumps from bad stories to worse stories. It is a true jungle out here.

In the meantime, Guatemalans will cross their ballots to exercise the democracy Mayan ball game. But, before that, they must know where exactly they will cast their vote and for that, they have to go to one of the many citizens’ registration booths; like the one pictured above in the entrance to La Antigua Guatemala.

Chicalote’s Flower and Seed Cocoon

Further in the background, you see the leaves of one of Guatemala’s most edible weeds: Quilete (also known as yerba mora and macuy). Yerba Mora is the weed in the background with the tiny yellow flowers. Guatemalans’ diet include many weeds and herbs. I will list them here as a sort of to do list and to see if other Guatemalans can help with translating some of the names. Guatemala’s most edible weed goes by the name of Chipilí­n and it used in so many dishes like chuchitos, mixed with rice, with chicken in a creamy white sauce. Other weeds, that I remember right now, are Bledo (young green amaranth), Berro, Acelgas (chard), Espinacas (spinach), Loroco, Flor de Izote, Flor de ayote. I am sure this is only a fraction of the list… can you point out other weeds and herbs a I left out.

Chicalote (Prickly Poppy) Cocoon in La Antigua Guatemala

Last year, on the entry The Land of the Eternal Spring, I talked about the “undocumented alien” in our garden, the Flor de Pascua (poinsettias) which were not planted or maintained, yet it gave us those wonderful red flowers from October through March. Since then, we moved to another house in San Pedro Las Huertas, one of the neighborhoods of La Antigua Guatemala, which is next to a coffee plantation with lots of trees and birds (partners in crime). Well, I am happy to report yet another “undocumented alien” in our new garden by the name of Chicalote (Prickly Poppy or Argemone Mexicana), a sort desert weed (that’s right I said desert, remember La Antigua is located in a tropical country). Two days ago I presented you the chicalote’s flower in the entry Flora and Fauna working together. One thing many visitors to La Antigua Guatemala notice right away is the incredible number of exotic flowers and plants, many of which grow in the wild.

Theme Day: One Way to the Decisive Moment

As I negotiated my acrobatic skills over the stone, looked back so I don’t get ran over or splashed by one of the uncivilized drivers, looked at the camera so I don’t ruin it with the running dirty water, composed the shot to include both elements, I took a couple of shots to get the best composition. As I was ready to put away the camera and moved away from the center of the street because two vehicles were using their horns to alert me that they were close and they had no mercy; this lady entered the frame; I did see her with my own eyes as I was looking down to the twist-out viewfinder paralleled to the floor; I had but fleeing second to take the shot and this fraction of a second my mind went through all countless photographs warehoused in my memory so fast that I must remember over thousand images until my brain did a full stop at one my favorite images ever: The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson. With that image in my head, I pressed the shutter release. Next, I pulled away from the centre of the street just in time as the vehicle behind me went by making a big splash (I did not get wet), pulled my eye sight to see that the lady did not fall and was already walking away in the opposite direction.