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October 2007

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Kites On Sale






The Guatemalan word for kite is barrilete. Papalote is the most often heard word in Spanish for kite, but in Guatemala barrilete is what people use. The kites on sale at this convenience store or tienda are Q2/$.25. The kite that the little boy was holding yesterday was bought from this store.




I’m Ready to Fly!






With November come the strong winds (Vientos fuertes would say Miguel Ángel Asturias). With the strong winds come the kites. With the kites come the celebrations of the day of the dead and all saints day. With the day of the dead celebrations comes the fiambre, the food to share with our dead. Stay tune for background information on the kite flying rituals and its me







Umbrella Time is Now Officially Over






Okay with this last photo of people carrying umbrellas we can now declare the rainy season of 2007 officially over. Okay everyone, you are welcome to the most beautiful weather in La Antigua Guatemala; come on over now!







Office Window View






Here is a little over-sharing, as Miss Jill would say. This is one of the views from our office window into the garden. Here we can see José, our green-thumb gardener waiting for the heavy rain to pass. By the way, rain is one of the most difficult things to photograph. Here I set shutter’s timing at two seconds, holding the camera over the window crate as a tripod, to try to capture the heavy down pour, yet I was only able to show silky lines. I’ve tried to do the same before in the entry Comtemplating the heavy rain with a little better success. We are about one to two weeks from the end of the rainy season.







Window view of Mountains around La Antigua Guatemala






As beautiful, cosmopolitan, antique and modern as it is La Antigua Guatemala, many people choose to live in one of the surrounding villages that belong to the municipio (county) of La Antigua Guatemala. There are many reasons for this decision which range from the economics, ‘real guatemalan experience’, or simply to live in a more natural and greener environment.







The Roads Around Antigua Guatemala






From the Guateflora series we take a different road to show you the lush roads around La Antigua Guatemala. By the way, the roads that communicate La Antigua Guatemala with the rest of the ‘real’ Guatemala are some of the best in the country, if not the best; they are kept in better conditions than the rest of the roads around Guatemala.







Guateflora: Llama del bosque






This kind of tree with its orange flowers is very popular around La Antigua Guatemala. According to the Guateflora book its name is Llama del bosque (flame of the forest) which brings me to an interesting fact between the English and Spanish languages. Forest in Spanish is bosque, but deforestation is deforestación. In English the root for the word bosque is still available as bosk for a thicket of bushes. Can you come up with other samples?







Guateflora: Chichicaste Hedge






Poison Ivy is without a doubt the most famous ivy in the family; especially after Drew Barrymore gave it human traits. I am not sure if we have poison ivy in Guatemala since I am not familiar with the plant. But, we have our own poisonous plant: Chichicaste. The scientific name is Chichicaste grandis and it belongs to the Loasaceae family, but here we just call it chichicaste. The chichicaste plant is used often in hedgerows and if you have followed this blog for a while, you will know that this is not the first time the chichicaste has entered the viewfinder. I know of two kinds of chichicaste, the regular kind and chichicaste de caballo (horse’s chichicaste), which has a leaf about three times the size of normal chichicaste.







Guateflora: Falsa Uva (False Grape)






The hoja de falsa uva (false grape) or Parthenocisus inserta as it is known scientifically is a trepadora (climbing) plant. In the trepadoras category the most often used are the hiedra (ivy), uña de gato (cat’s claw), falsa uva (false grape), collar de la reina (queen’s collar), and of course the ever-present bugambilea (bougainvillea). The trepadoras (climbing) category in the Guateflora book has 34 different plants, so I have homework to do. 😉







Guateflora: Falsa Maní­a (False Peanut)






Falsa maní­a or Maní­ forrajero (false peanut) as it is known in Guatemala the Arachis pintoi is a cubresuelos (ground-creeping) plant used often in the garden of La Antigua Guatemala. José, our gardener, told me that you can also use it a trepadora (climbing) plant if you guide it. I really like this evergreen plant which flowers all-year-round a tiny yellow flower. According to the Guateflora book, it can grow anywhere and handles well people walking over it.







Guateflora: Hiedras (Hedera/Ivies)






Hiedras (Ivies/Hederas helix & H. canariensis) are very popular as well as all kinds of trepadoras (climbing) or cubresuelos (ground-creeping) siempreverdes (evergreen) plants in La Antigua Guatemala. Hiedras and trepadoras are found in many antigüeño homes covering the gardens’ walls.







Guateflora: Cactus Pot






Believe it or not, the land around La Antigua Guatemala was a very ‘fertile’ arid zone before the introduction of the coffee bush as a crop in 1875. I know fertile and arid sound like two mutually exclusive words, but they were not in Guatemala before 18th century where the Nopal and Maguey cactuses were grown in plantations. I’ve even seen photographs of the nopal plantations around La Antigua Guatemala in the CIRMA Fototeca (The Photo Archives at The Center for Mesoamerican Research).







Guateflora: Colas de Quetzal






You know you are in a Guatemalan home the moment you see the Colas de Quetzal (nephorlepsis spp.) or Quetzal’s tails (ferns) hanging in the corridors. The Colas de Quetzal bracken has to be one of the favorite ornamental plants used in the Guatemalan home. Some of these ferns or brackens are native to Guatemala, but they are considered cosmopolitan because they can grow anywhere. Colas de Quetzal can grown in hanging baskets, pots or in the ground, but they need some shadow to maintain the evergreen colors. The above photo of Colas de Quetzal was taken at Vivero La Escalonia (5a av. sur final), a very popular nursery in La Antigua Guatemala. Vivero La Escalonia is a great place to have breakfast or lunch.







Guateflora: Close-up View of Gerberas






Gerberas (gerbera jamesonii) are a very popular flowers in the gardens of La Antigua Guatemala. Gerberas are found in yellow, white, red (like the picture above), orange, purple and pink. Gerberas grow in temperate-cold climate and give their beautiful flowers throughout the year. This particular shot was taken at Vivero La Escalonia in the south part of La Antigua. (source for technical information: Guate Flora)







Signs, Signs, Signs…






The above yellow corner is located on 1a calle poniente in La Antigua Guatemala. The Astoria delicatessen is just one of many delicatessen in La Antigua Guatemala. We are privileged in this aspect with access to some fine and exclusive ingredients. La Antigua Guatemala is a tiny town that wants to be a huge cosmopolitan metropolis, but without the traffic, rush hours, or smog. Let it dream!







Berenjenas Sign in Antigua






The Fetish Etymology Side Note: First there was the Spanish word Hechizo (witch craft or witch-made) which turned into Feitiço in Portuguese. The Portuguese Feitiço swam over the North Sea to France and became Fetiche (actually, between you and I, Feitiço flew to France on a broom; but since we are talking about the XV century we don’t want to risk misinterpretation, you know). Once in France it was only a matter of time for the English to snatched the foreign-sounding word, but because they did not how to spell it, Fetiche became Fetish. Unfortunately this was at the time when the Europeans were trading with humans from Africa and because they did not know much about Africans religions they use the word fetish to denominate all those religious rituals. Karl Marx felt that merchandise possessed a bewitching aspect and thus it was evil, so he called this malicious attraction a fetish. Once in the German language, it was only a matter of time (again) for mister Sigmund Freud to muddle with its meaning to apply it to the phenomena he was observing in his clinic. With this last meaning fetish (fetiche in Spanish) came back to its mother tongue; completely transformed.







Caimán at La Naranja Pelada






La Naranja Pelada restaurant either falls under the category of tacky or kitsch; you decide! Besides all the specimens on the walls don’t go with us. To have stuffed animals in the brink of extinction like the caimán (cayman) shown above is enough for us to go elsewhere. The reasons I have to show all the recent photos of La Naranaja Pelada have to do with documenting a place with a little fame because of the ceviches they serve there. Seviches are a very important Guatemalan dish and very popular snack/meal around La Antigua Guatemala. I also found La Naranaja Pelada to be very tacky and kitsch. There is still one more shot about La Naranaja Pelada and then we will wave our goodbyes.







Ceviche from La Naranja Pelada






Anyhow, much has been said about ceviches and there are almost as many spellings [seviche, cebiche, sebiche] are there recipes from all the different countries of Latin America. But three ceviches styles are the most widely known: The Mexican, The Peruvian and The Guatemalan Ceviche. All seviches have their own twist and I have to admit that the Guatemalan cebiche with conchas (shellfish with dark, almost black, ink) is the least appealing of all. Yet, for those brave enough to have tried it, the Guatemalan conchas ceviche is a total delicacy. Guy from Inner Diablog has spent enough ink talking about ceviches and since he’s a total connoisseur, I rather you go to his blog and read about ceviches there.







Inside View at La Naranja Pelada Restaurant






Guy’s description of the restaurant fit it to the t: “…wood-panelled and decorated with specimens of local ‘game’ such as snakes, turtles and armadilloes.” La Naranja Pelada restaurant falls into the tacky category of restaurants or bars that have an exotic, underground sort of, appeal for intellectuals and ordinary people alike. Another example of this is the bar El Olvido in Guatemala City. I dislike most of what I saw inside La Naranja Pelada (peeled orange), but especially the animal decoration on the walls and bar. Also the full-size ‘Marlboro Man’ poster is of poor taste in my book. This weekend We rented the film Thank You for Smoking directed by Jason Reitman and there was a chapter about the Marlboro Man who was dying from all the years of smoking. Talk about synchronicity.







In Search of the La Naranja Pelada






The first time I ever heard about La Naranja Pelada (The Peeled Orange) was at Inner Diablog, a blog published from London but filled with hindsight and hard-to-find information about Guatemala. On top of all, Guy writes so eloquently that it is a pleasure to read his entries. Honest, this blog and his writing is an inspiration for me. Check it out!

In the area around Antigua the best ceviches are to be found in a small seafood restaurant on a backstreet of Jocotenango called La Naranja Pelada. The dining room is wood-panelled and decorated with specimens of local ‘game’ such as snakes, turtles and armadilloes. (source: Inner Diablog)







Arch column in Jocotenango






Okay enough is enough. If you browse the Arches category you can find 22 entries and that is not counting all the arches that have appeared through the 535 consecutive days, but I have not tagged or classified as arches. Not once I have talked about the simple column that supports the arch; that is wrong if you consider that it takes two columns to support a single arch.







Arches at the Jocotenango Municipalidad






Here is another shot taken at the Municipalidad de Jocotenango which shows its yellow façade and abundance of arches. Jocotenango was the community where workers and artisans (indians) lived in colonial times. Nowadays, Jocotenango still provides residence to many of the workers of La Antigua Guatemala.







Arch-framed Women in Jocotenango






This is very simple image will allow us to play a creative game. Taking the two women as our characters we will write up one of many conceivable dialogues as the interaction between them. This would be similar to what we did in Opposite Ends of Life #2, which you should look at and read to get an idea. The apparent age difference could be used to set the pair as mother and daughter or sisters or simply co-workers of the newly opened Subway; it is up to you. I will submit the first plausible dialogue.







Jumping over the cables






Here is a vertical shot of a biker doing a jump in the atrium of the Jocotenango church. Jocotenago is one of the communities very near La Antigua Guatemala. Jocotenango is so close to La Antigua that you might walk and cross over the municipal borders without realizing it. Jocotenango and Ciudad Vieja are the two municipios (counties) where most of the antigüeños moved after they sold their houses in La Antigua Guatemala. Some antigüeños sold their house under pressure from buyers and because the incredible prices buyers were willing to pay. Ciudad Vieja and Jocotenango is where most of the workers of La Antigua Guatemala businesses live. Jocotenango and Ciudad Vieja are ‘REAL’ Guatemalan communities, unlike La Antigua Guatemala. Soon I will post an entry with the following title: La Antigua Guatemala is not Guatemala (which I’ve been saving for a long while now). Stay tune!