Colorful Guatemala

Colorful Guatemala

Colorful Guatemala, I tell you, colorful Guatemala!

Si ni los mismos guatemaltecos logramos entender la complejidad cultural en la que vivimos… —Ale de Desde Kinshasa

Not even us Guatemalans can really comprehend the cultural complexity in which we live… —Ale from Desde Kinshasa

Oh Guatemala can be a challenge for people who come from places with muted colors, and muted lifestyles where everything is the same old, same old. Too many colors, too many textures, too many idiosyncrasies, too many situations subtle and complex enough to throw off most conservative minds from their comfort zone. But sure enough, with their limited understanding and ignorance of the complexities of Guatemala, they publish misinformation on the web as absolute truths. That was one of the main reason I began this web site over three years ago; I was sick and tired of reading misinformation and ignorance regarding all things Guatemalan.

Still, often I come across aberrations such as: Volcán de Agua is active and can be climbed to see lava and eruptions, while thinking of Volcán de Pacaya; of course, misspellings of name of places (Spanish only has 5 sounds for the 5 vowels, yet many foreigners always use the wrong vowels); or that izote is the flower of the yucca tree; misinterpretations of Guatemalan idioms, words, customs, traditions, celebration, diet, et-cetera.

Some people have stated that Guatemalans only eat rice, beans and tortillas, without checking the facts; for instance, I have over 125 entries on Guatemalan cuisine and I am sure I have not even covered 25% of the extensive and rich Guatemalan food heritage. One single trip a town’s market would prove them wrong; after all, for whom are all those hundreds of fresh vegetables, fruits and spices? Other people, without doing research first, will cast as truth that a diet based on the milpa crops is deficient. Let’s see what the scientific findings are:

Maize is grown in what is called a milpa. The term means “maize field,” but refers to something considerably more complex. A milpa a field, usually but not always recently cleared, in which farmers plant a dozen crops at once, including maize, avocados, multiples varieties of squash and bean, melon, tomatoes, chilies, sweet potato, jicama (a tuber), amaranth (a grain-like plant) and mucuma (a tropical legume)… Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary… Milpa is one of the most successful human inventions ever created. [ed. Just a fragment on the chapter about maize). Source: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

Oh, I could go on and on about the misinformation I come across through my Google alerts about Guatemala and its people. One can understand that some of this crap is published by naive tourists, pseudo-travel writers or even ill-informed expats. Boy, don’t even get me stated with the expats! ;-) Of course, I am making broad generalizations which are ALWAYS dangerous according to my good epistolary Guatemalan friend Ale from Congo Days, but there is enough foul information out there on the web published as “truths”. Keep that in mind whenever you discover new blogs and websites through Google.

Otros vendrán para descubrir que es más complejo, tal vez más bello y más trágico, que lo que se habían imaginado y habían escuchado. —comentario de Ale de Congo Days in AntiguaDailyPhoto

Others will come to discover that is more complex, perhaps even more beautiful and more tragic than what they had imagined or heard. —comment by Ale from Congo Days in AntiguaDailyPhoto

Can you share with us your thoughts about misinformation and ill-informed posts you have come across?

Colorful Guatemala, I tell you, colorful Guatemala!

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