Fuel Home Delivery in La Antigua Guatemala

Wood Fuel  Home Delivery

Does one have the right to change his/her mind? I ask because the first time I posted the use of wood as fuel, I was against it. By the second time I showed a photo of wood being used as fuel, I had learnt that not all instances of the use of wood as fuel were bad from an article that appeared in National Geographic en español. Recently, I learned about the benefits of finding renewable sources of fuel, like biodiesel (Can you see an entry on Biodiesel coming up pretty soon?). So, I can change my mind, right?

Well, we are not going to talk about wood as fuel anyway. No sir, no. We actually are going to talk about the colonial measurements which are still in use the 21st Century Guatemala. How you may ask yourself we moved from renewable fuel sources to colonial measurements in the same photo of a truck full of wood logs? Easy, my friends, that’s how easy it can be done. Let me explain. See, the photo above is about fuel home delivery and the transaction that occurred there. The amount of wood missing from the truck, which was delivered to the lady in delantal (apron) is a colonial measurement known as una tarea (one workload). Workload or tarea (also known as homework) is the best word I can think of to translate the word tarea. The lady in the apron bought una tarea of wood logs, which, she said, was enough fuel for two weeks for her household. She paid Q180/US$24 for una tarea of wood logs.

Other colonial measurements still in use in present-day Guatemala are: Una mano (one hand or five of anything), un manojo (a bunch), una libra (a pound; this one may hurt many of you, but for sure, the civilized world now uses the kilo), una picopada (a truckload), una fila de frances (a row of french rolls), una arroba (@ or 25 pounds) un quintal (100 pounds), una cuerda (a cord equals 1/6 of city block), una medida (a measurement of whatever fits inside a small can or basket), una penca de banano (that’s a banana cluster), et-cetera or basically that’s what I can remember right now. I am sure the Guatemalans visitors will share other colonial measurements being used in Guatemala. There was a recent article about colonial measurement in Prensa Libre’s Revista Domingo under the title of Costumbres que pesan {ñ}.

Semana Santa in Guatemala City Side Note: For those of you who did not have enough Holy Week photos, here is a link to Slide Show of Holy Week photos in Guatemala City by the Guatemalan photojournalist James Rodrí­guez of MiMundo.Org. If you have the time, I recommend his photo stream at Flickr and his website very highly.

One final post scriptum: Today’s entry can be also called the Boeing 707. Do you know why?

© 2008 – 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Herber

    We also use “un racimo” (for fruit), “una cuarta” (of the size of a hand), “un rimero” (de tortillas), etc.

  • Lucky

    Do you remember “un muñeco de tortillas”? Rudy we are with you in this boeing too. This is the boeing 707 because is the 707 photo you post, isn’t it?

  • Love this pic! Mostly for the delightful little girl with her hand over her mouth. 🙂
    I also love history — so your commentary on phrases from colonial times is really interesting!

  • coltrane_lives

    informative to say the least…

  • Alex Sanz

    Tarea = homework might not be the best choice of translation. I remember my father, he was a campesino en El Quiche, telling me that Tarea was the area of land that he could work during a shift of 8 hours. So, tarea is a surface measurement instead of volume. My father also told me that a Tarea was also called a Cuerda. There is no one metric equivalent for a Tarea. Maybe you could find somebody that works the fields that could give you the metric equivalent. There is another unit that my father used, legua, I think it was the equivalent to 3 kilometers.

  • Tom Holley

    Wood used for a cooking fuel may have its advantages, but there should be a replanting program lest even more countryside in Guatemala become deforested.

  • wood here is measured by the rick. a rick is 8 feet long 4 feet tall and 3 feet thick i think, i am getting so old i have forgot more than i know. i have seen advertisement in our paper this winter for a rick at 50 dollars. we use propane for heat and cooking now and that has been 2.29 a gallon this winter. if it gets much higher i may have to move to your country or freeze.

  • Love the blog and the photos