Carreta 5 by Miguel De León Soto

Guatemala is a country of Desaparecidos (disappeared) and La Antigua Guatemala is not an exception. These colorful and friendly street vendors and their traditional carts vanished without leaving a trace or even causing a murmur. These honest and hard-working people simply desaparecieron (disappeared). They are missing… and missed. 🙁

My friend and colleague Miguel De León Soto, who’s also an Antigua Guatemala lover, send us these photos because he’s outraged the municipal government has removed these typical street carts without consultation. He believes these carts not only provide much needed services and products, such as fresh fruits, but they are also an integral part of our identity, and important ingredient of what makes La Antigua Guatemala rich and colorful.

I agree with him!

Come on, where are we going to buy these fresh fruits now?

It seems that in an electoral year, the Mayor Adolfo Vivar should be careful about the things he does and upsets. It looks like this is not the only steps backwards or in the wrong direction that Muni (short for Municipalidad or City Hall) has taken recently. Today I also discovered that they have taken a mayor leap backwards by replacing their nearly usable and friendly website which I reported back on August 2010 with a horrendous and user unfriendly flash website.

We live in a world that moved forward, away from the horrible and unusable flash websites, which gave us the Web 2.0 back in 2002 and then the Social Media Networks back in 2005. We are humans and we love to communicate and share and that’s why websites that provide the tools and the means for these basic needs are very successful, websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, just to mention a few examples. On the other hand, most of the time flash websites are unusable, unfriendly, horrible to navigate and inhibit communication. The prevention of a dialogue should be reason enough to take down a flash website right away, especially if it’s a government office which is incompetently serving its constituents communication needs.

The reason I checked the Muni’s website in the first place was because I wanted to grab the mayor’s email address so we can write to him and let him know we are not happy with the removal of the traditional street carts as suggested by Miguel de León, but believe or not there’s no contact form or email for any of the offices or branches of the municipal government. In fact, the only email address available anywhere on the website is for the web developer.

I promise I will get the mayor’s email address so we can write to him. Stay tune, I will update this entry with his email address. 🙁

This is what reported on August 24, 2010:

New Blog and Twitter presence of Municipalidad de La Antigua Guatemala Aside: Finally the Municipalidad de La Antigua Guatemala is sporting new presence in Twitter as well as a new website. If you are in Twitter you can follow @MunideAntigua for all the latest official buzz.

Now, the new web site found at MunicipalidadAntiguaGuatemala.com leaves much to be desired. The new web site is poorly executed, with awkward navigation, horrible animations, partially translated into Spanish menus and a poor structure all around. There is no English version of the website to better serve its foreign community. In my humble opinion, the new web site is almost as bad as the one it replaces.
Furthermore, it’s my professional opinion that the Municipalidad de La Antigua Guatemala was poorly advised regarding its web site, its Twitter account, its new domain, et cetera.

Yes, even the new domain is the wrong choice. Instead of having a FREE or inexpensive .GOB.GT domain they have a U.S. commercial domain. Instead of having something simple as AntiguaGuatemala.gob.gt they have this cumbersome municipalidadantiguaguatemala.com business domain.

Nevertheless, I welcome the new steps the Municipalidad is taken to have a better web presence and communication with its citizens and the world. I just hope next time they hire someone with sufficient experience and knowledge to give them the website and presence that will benefit its citizens the most.

Photos by Miguel De León Soto. Check out Miguel’s Flickr gallery where he shares with us so many beautiful and touching images of La Antigua Guatemala.

© 2011 – 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • O they should hire you but of coursethey won’t. These things don’t happen any better over here alas.

    • @Hyde, well I am not sure I want to do that kind stuff, but certainly they can bring me as consultant to help them guide their web and social media efforts in the right directions.

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  • Opattie

    Oh my….what is next? The helado carts?

    • @Opattie, ay no, if the mess with the heladeros, then surely they will have a revolution on their hands. I hope they rethink their mistake and bring back the traditional cart vendors.

  • Begonia

    I am guessing that both of these decisions are based in a mistaken desire for the Muni to appear more “modern” or “desarollado. The Muni should instead heed these timeless words of wisdom: “Be yourself”.

    There is nothing more special and wonderful for a visitor to Antigua to purchase mangos or a bolsita de tortrix from the street vendors. They are also part of what makes the street scene interesting and lively. Plus, they provide security. I bet that one street vendor on a block provides more protection against car thefts than 10 police walking up and down the block.

    And yes, Rudy, the stupid music and animation on the muni’s website is embarrassing. Even when flash was more popular I disliked websites that had animation and music. Just get me to the content, please!

    The website should use Antigua’s own architecture and municipal codes for inspiration: classic, timeless, elegant, not flashy, quiet. There is no “flash” allowed in Antigua’s signs–why is there “flash” on the website?

    Incidentally, I am friends with Miguel and very impressed with his mastery of many talents. Gracias, Miguelin, por llamar la atencion a las carretas desaparecidas! –Tu amiga en el extranjero, Sonia

    • @Begonia, you are so right about what the Muni should do with the city and their website.

  • kajova

    Well, you may be right that the carts are part of the our identity but also, these people need to be supervised and not disgrace their presence by littering, you know how that goes!!! The indeed provide a service, therefore they should be put back on the streets, this should be part of the vote when the new alcalde would be elected. Thanks for your great info.

    • rworange

      In the year I have lived here I have noticed a lot of litter but never near these types of carts.

      When was this decision made? It is terrible and I will be happy to send my comments about this when you provide an email.

      In my opinion, Guatemala loses lots of chances to promote tourism because of the lack of information about events and the culture in general. A bad governmentwebsite is only a part of that.

      If it was not for your blog, Que Pasa and Review magazines … especially your blog … I would have missed out on many wonderful and memorable moments during my stay here.

  • I wondered where the man with the air force hat had gone. Of course, I should have gone to ADP to find out!

    • @Nic, I know, not only they provided a valuable service to antigüeños and visitors, but they were also part of the flavor and character of La Antigua Guatemala.