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February 2008

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The Coffee Colors

The other day we heard many voices on the other side of the fence; voices of children and women just talking and laughing. We approached the windows on the second floor to see what was all the commotion; then we saw men, women and children harvesting the coffee. At this moment, you can see the turning point of coffee from green to golden yellow and finally cherry red.

SAT Office in La Antigua Guatemala

Well, you may be wondering what SAT office means. Behind this placid view of this government building hides one of the reason why Guatemala is so poor; a beggar really if we consider that Guatemala begs money for road repairing, road building, new modern national identification card, fertilizers, schools, libraries and the list goes on and on. The picture above is the local office of the Superintendencia de Administración Tributaria, SAT for short and the equivalent of the IRS.

Healthy Lunch: Chef Salad and The New Yorker

Every once in a while is good to stop eating Guatemalan food and eat something healthy, like a chef salad from La Fuente restaurant. A salad and the New Yorker Magazine is what I consider a healthy lunch. The article about an unknown photographer by the name of Eugene De Salignac and his photo of painters spreading out like musical notes, on the Brooklyn Bridge, over the sky line of New York, was most definitely the best dessert I have had in a long while.

La Peña de Sol Latino Sign

Sol Latino is a band that plays mostly Andean and Latin American music. For a long time Sol Latino wonder around the different venues and bar/restaurant circuit in La Antigua Guatemala. Eventually, they managed to get an investor to open up a restaurant-bar so they could have their own stage where to play every night. La Peña de Sol Latino became their home base; thus, they needed to wonder no more.

Which Way to Turn?

Here’s a hypothetical question for you. In Guatemala, who has the right of way among these options: pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, car, bus, truck, eighteen-wheeler truck? If you plan to visit Guatemala, you must know the answer before you arrive.

Grilling and Barbequing Time in Antigua

The weather gods decided long time ago to sent into exile the fascist dictator of Cold to the vast lands of maple leaves and bacon; originally known as Kanata. Thanks to the wise weather gods, in Guatemala any time of the year is good for grilling and barbequing and to meet with friends for what is known locally as El Chuparrasco (chupa for drinking and rrasco, short for churrasco or barbequing). Nevertheless, I have said several times that the dried season, or rainless, that goes from the end of October to end of April is the best weather in Guatemala (which covers part of the Fall, full Winter and part of the Spring seasons). Well, if I had to pick one month as the best to visit La Antigua Guatemala, I would pick February. See, in February we have the Carnival, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, San Valentine’s Day (Dí­a del cariño), the best temperate weather, Silvio Rodrí­guez in Concert (at least this year for the first time ever), just to mention a few highlights for the month of love.

Guatemalan Cuisine: Rellenitos

Rellenitos (little fillings) is the name given to a food made from plantain dough which molded into a semi-round shaped and filled (thus the name) with a black beans sauce or stuffed with manjar (custard). It is a sweet meal and normally eaten as junk food or as dessert. It is one of my favorite Guatemalan desserts and I am sure I am not the only one with a soft spot for this kind of meal. Check out this close-up shot of rellenitos to see the black bean sauce filling.

Public Enemy Number 1: The Plastic Bag

Dot 2: The very same day, after reading the article above in my lunch hour, I walked back to the office and sure enough a plastic bag came dancing towards me, just like in the American Beauty film. So what was I to do, but to pull my camera and to start shooting this new enemy. This incident happened right in front of Doña Luisa Xicotencatl restaurant; one of LAG’s landmarks.

Supervising the Municipal Police

So you wanted to know what happened to the Indigenous singers from February 2nd, right? Well the municipal police told them that they also needed to work and that if they did not have a permit to sing on the streets their supervisor would get on their case. Sure enough, less than a half of block away, these two tourist police were stopped by their supervisors. The Indigenous singers were told to go to the ‘Muni’ to get a permit to sing on the streets. I am not sure such permit exists, not for the Indigenous people, for sure.

Garden Chickens for Patsy Poor

It was Patsy Poor who requested photos of Guatemala chickens. Well Patsy, you are served. These garden chickens are known locally as gallinas criollas (creole hens) or gallinas del paí­s (native hens) as opposed to the chicken grown in farms.

Weekend Scene at Calle del Arco

The two blocks from the 5a avenida norte (5th North Avenue) that separate El Parque Central (Main Plaza) and the La Iglesia de La Merced (church) are known as the Calle del Arco (the Arch Street) and the weekends this strip becomes a pedestrian’s throughway. In my humble opinion, the whole city should turn the streets in pedestrian only walkways before it’s too late.

Signs: Only in Guatemala

No Food, No Cameras, No Guns, No Backpackers and No Private Guards inside, the sign reads. Only in Guatemala you can find this kind of signs (I think). Guns are a big trouble, you know; people do crazy things with them and not only in Guatemala; naked guns are worn in the belts like cellphones or keychains; even banks and offices have an unusual piece of furniture to deposit customers’ guns at the entrance. Certainly Guatemala is not the only gun-crazy country in the world, nevertheless, it sad to see signs like the one above, captured at Angelina’s Doorway.

My condolences to the families and friends of the students who lost their lives yesterday in Illinois. 🙁

Valentine’s Day in La Antigua Guatemala

Valentine’s Day in Guatemala is known as El Dí­a del Cariño. Cariño and caress share the same etymology and it means affection. The Day of Affection would be a close translation for El Dí­a del Cariño, thus it is much more than Valentine’s Day because it is the day to show your affection, love and appreciation to your co-workers, neighbors, friends, family, and of course, your girlfriend or wife; whatever the case may be.

Small Procession in San Pedro Las Huertas

Processions are majestic, huge and long in La Antigua Guatemala. You can browse the Processions category to get an idea of the size of the processions in La Antigua Guatemala. There are smaller and more humble processions in the villages and small communities surrounding La Antigua Guatemala. This year, I will try to focus more in the Holy Week celebrations and processions in the villages where you can still observe the fervor, regardless of the size, for all these Catholic rituals. The photo above was taken in the village of San Pedro Las Huertas, while the procession made a pit stop or parada as they are known in Spanish. Well, I think that is the name, maybe somebody more knowledgeable in Catholic rituals can provide the actual name for the stops the processions make every so often at specific spots.

What’s killing La Antigua Guatemala

The cobblestone streets of La Antigua Guatemala were originally designed for horses and horse-carriages. So, it is no wonder that even light vehicles, like cars, create a lot of damage to the streets which, therefore, need constant repairing. Now you can imagine that huge and heavy trucks like the ones pictured above not only damage the streets, but the foundation of the houses and the city itself.

Café No Sé Façade in La Antigua Guatemala

This is the façade of Café No Sé in La Antigua Guatemala, headquarters of the John Rexer’s 1a avenida sur empire. His efforts to take control over the whole 1a avenida sur (1st Avenue South) are a little more humble than Pinky and The Brain Gutiérrez who want the whole world to convert to their tender, juicy and crunchy recipe of fried chicken. 😉

Waiting for the Hippies

The bar man is waiting for the hippies customers to show up… even though it looks empty in the early afternoon, you can barely fit inside at night. If you like live music and a bohemian atmosphere, Café No Sé is your place in town.

Hippie Hole in La Antigua Guatemala

One by one all the houses in La Antigua Guatemala are becoming business like cafes, spanish schools, offices, travel agencies, folk-art stores, et-cetera. Above you see the corridor at Café No Sé, which was converted into a dining area by placing a few tables and chairs.

Copyright Infringement Sign

Signs: They come with all kinds messages; some with weird information too.

If you’ve been visiting La Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo for a month or longer, you will know that the sign category gets a lot of attention from my viewfinder. You can browse the sign category to see 48 samples of the different signs capture thus far.

Guatemalan-style Salt and Pepper Shakers

eck, sometimes we even do some local recycling too. For instance, all those empty hard liquor bottles can have a fulfilling second life as salt and pepper shakers.

What I like about the people of Café No Sé is that they know when they are onto something; at once they apply the Café No Sé branding, and just in case, they make sure it is registered. These are my kind of hippies! 😉

The High Priest of Café No Sé

John Rexer, New Yorker by birth, Mexican by heart and Antigüeño by choice, came to La Antigua Guatemala a few years ago and after surfing the local scene, he realized a joint was needed for backpackers, hippies, ex-pats and others looking for the other side, the flip side, of LAG. A sort of bohemian atmosphere where people were free to express their artistic vein, or simply to relax while eating the local variant of Tex-Mex food or drinking cheap beers or his own Ilegal Mezcal brand (the generic name for Tequila-like agave distills).

Hippies Use Backdoor, No Exceptions

I found out about the sign above via Buried Mirror and I knew a mini series was long over due about this hippie joint in La Antigua Guatemala.

Do you know what place am I talking about?

Who ever came out with this great idea for a sign, for sure, was a hippie who now is very wealthy. Check out this amazing slide show that reveals all the different places where the sign has been posted.

Repairing the Cobblestreets of La Antigua Guatemala

As the new mayor took office on January 15th, he launched a new campaign to rescue the streets for the lent celebrations begin in February. Right now there are crews of cobblestone street workers almost everywhere and many streets are closed for repairs. Let’s hope they can meet their goal since Lent or Cuaresma in Spanish is approaching soon.

Guatemalan Indigenous Singers

I find the singing of the indigenous people extremely haunting and touching, even though, they are singing evangelical hymns. To me this singing has another layer of pain and denouncing which is above the meaning of the words they sing; something much older and more mystical than the religious hymn brought by the European Christianity.

Guatemalan Carnival Cascarones for 25 Centavos

Cascarones are empty eggshells that are filled with pica-pica paper confetti and then covered up with another piece of papel china (tissue paper) and finally painted in colorful ways; like everything else in Guatemala. The final painted eggshells are reserved for the Carnaval as it is known carnival in Spanish which is the ‘Sad Tuesday’ before Ash Wednesday; why ‘Sad Tuesday’?, well carnival means “farewell to meat”, you can only be sad if you are going to keep a vegetarian lent. 😉