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Happy Gluttony

Portada XW113 smallChristmas time is upon us once again, providing us with the perfect opportunity to forget about those silly middle-of-year fads such as dieting, exercising more, drinking less and going to bed early. Those were so November.

Indeed, if there´s one thing in common between all of the diverse  traditions for celebrating Christmas across the globe, it’s that they all give us a chance to splurge. Around the world mountains of food ranging from turkey, ham, meatballs, fish soup and curried goat to mince pies, cookies, fruitcakes and yule logs are washed down with the likes of bucks fizz, eggnog, mulled wine, cider and Christmas beer.Guatemala is no different and here Christmas food and drink takes a centre stage over the holidays. Guatemalans are already salivating over the prospect of eating the famous tamales navideños. So if you´re planning on spending Christmas here in Guate – make sure you eat at least two dozen (we recommend the chocolate ones).

And up for drinks there is the ponche navideño to look forward to – a drink so delicious we just had to include it as our Recipe of the Month, courtesy of Simone Riddle. So now you have no excuses for not popping to the market, stocking up on ingredients, buying a few bottles of rum and tequila and making a gallon or two of punch for your own Christmas posada. Just don´t forget to invite us. We like punch.



P o p p i n g

Eighth Time Lucky

Football season is back into full swing and the matches for the Liga Nacional have got off to a cracking start… for the other teams. Sadly, it appears as though the Super Chivos still can´t find their mojo, which seems to have gone missing ever since their spectacular win of the Quinta Luna back in 2012.

This season has been going rather embarrassingly for Xelajú to say the least: of the seven games they played between October 25th and November 19th, they managed to win precisely… zero.

Still, it´s not over yet and it appears as though the team has broken their streak of bad luck (we´re hoping so anyway): they finally managed to score a 2-1 win over Petapa on November 23rd.

They´re currently in 7th place (out of 12), and so only need to move up by one in order to move forward to the next round, for which the top six teams will qualify. Come on Super Chivos – you can do it!

The Case for Hitch-hiking in Guatemala

by Jason Crawford

It may seem crazy to the uninitiated, but hitchhiking is by far my favorite way to get around Guatemala. It’s fast, it’s often free, and most importantly, it’s safer than the camionetas (chicken buses). This is where my readership collectively double takes. “Safer than chicken buses? But what about kidnapping and car crashes and lions and tigers and bears?” Well, the problems that don’t involve wild animals are far MORE likely to occur on the public transit system, plus hitching’s a much more comfortable experience.

For one, buses are basically giant rolling piñatas for thieves. If you were about to risk your life holding up strangers for valuables, do you pick the truck that has maybe three locals or the giant bus jam-packed with 50 people, many of them rich foreigners if you pick the right route. It’s basic risk versus reward, and humans generally act in self-interest.

Christmas is here, but I´m not with you

I never thought that I would spend a Christmas so far away from you. The previous times when we had to be separated, I managed to come home and celebrate Christmas with you. But this year it will be different.

What will I miss most about you at this time of the year? Perhaps it will be the perfume you wear that smells like pine, spices and sweets. Or maybe it will be the aroma of one of those delicious dinners that you prepare in order to serve at midnight, with the potato paches and rice tamales.

La Ciudad de la Imaginación

by Alba Carrasco

La Ciudad de la Imaginación is a Guatemalan organization that promotes the production and research of contemporary art. We seek to stimulate critical reflection among communities at the local and international level, through a programme of public cultural events, including exhibitions, experimental spaces, seminars, talks and educational workshops.

Since Ciudad de la Imaginación was founded in 2010, we have been dedicated to promoting projects where art, social sensitivities, political events and culture intersect, creating a space for contemporary artistic creation.

Recipe of the Month – Ponche Navideño

by Simone Riddle

December: the month of posadas. If you have developed a friendship with any catholic families during your time in Xela, you’ll eventually be invited to participate in una posada: a nightly religious street procession in the run up to Christmas which ends with a visit to the home of one of the participating families. Ponche is a popular drink to be served at one of these gatherings. It’s the perfect drink ‘para quitar el frio’. In fact, that makes it perfect for any night in Xela.

Forget the packet version you’ll find in La Despensa. Impress friends in Guate and back home with this Christmas winter warmer. Here’s the alcohol-free version. You get to decide how much Quetzalteca to add!

Grow Your Own – Urban Farms

by Juan Jardinero

“The shorter the chain between raw food and fork, the fresher it is and the more transparent the system is.”
- Joel Salatin.

The simple act of planting a garden can shape issues like economics, health, and politics all at the same time because food is an essential focal point of human activity. It is therefore important that we stay connected to the source of our food. However that´s becoming harder these days, our food can now be shipped from across the world and a single meal can contain ingredients from every corner of the planet. We can’t deny that having avocados all year round is one of the best parts of globalization, but in return we’ve lost our connection with our food and farmers. In Xela however we are still able to purchase most of our food from local producers; vegetables from Almolonga, fruit from the coast, both places no more than a few hours by car. However international markets are increasing the presence of imported foods. Xela once a region where apples grew in almost every home have now been replaced by homogenous tasteless imported apples.


With the highest number of Facebook users in Central America and a Twitter population growing by the thousands every month, social media can be a great place to find out what’s buzzing in Guatemala. Of course, there’s also a whole lot of nonsense posted online too, but at XelaWho we like nonsense so here are some of last month’s social media trends, with the interesting & the informative alongside the vacuous & the ludicrous.


The Constitutional Court has continued to be a hot topic both online and offline throughout November. For those that aren’t up to speed on the situation: in October a high court judge named Claudia Escobar Mejia resigned from her position, claiming that the process by which justice officials are selected is rampant with corruption – leading to less than 25% of the judges that are elected actually having the required experience. Instead, she claimed that judges are selected simply on the basis of their connections so that corrupt officials and business leaders can feel safe in knowing that their country’s judges will not prosecute them for any wrongdoings they just might happen to commit.

Vegetarian Woes

“¿¡No comes carne?!” exclaims the wide-eyed Guatemalan, mouth open in disbelief after you´ve just told them that you don´t eatPortada XW112 small# meat. Then, for a moment, it all seems to click and everything falls into place in their mind: “¿Ah, pero pollo si comes?” they ask.  It all makes sense now: you just don´t like the taste of beef (commonly just called carne in Guatemala), which is perfectly reasonable. But it must mean that you eat lots of chicken instead, right?

When you reply that no, in fact, you don´t eat chicken either there is audible gasp of shock. It is soon replaced by a look of pity, as the next logical explanation for this strange behaviour springs to mind: “¿Es por razones médicas, entonces?”, because the only reason any sane human being would give up delicious, juicy meat would be because their doctor told them to. Perhaps you have high blood pressure and you need to keep your cholesterol down. Poor you.

You are forced to reply that no, your doctor did not tell you that you have to stop eating meat; you gave it up voluntarily. The look of confusion mixed with disbelief returns to their face, as if you just told them your favourite hobbies are cycling, travelling & killing puppies.



P o p p i n g

Don´t Miss These

November is shaping up to be a fantastic month for culture in Xela.

On the 8th, one of Guatemala´s biggest bands, Malacates Trebol Shop, will be playing at Salcaja (a town about 15 minutes away from Xela). You can get tickets for this from déjà vu cocktail bar in Xela. For those that would fancy something a bit more alternative, there is also a metal music festival happening the same day.

Later in the month, on the 22nd, we also have the Alianza Francesa´s famous Xela en Musica festival, which you can be sure will have a whole host of great bands to enjoy.

And for the artists & designers out there, Ciudad de la Imaginación is holding a week long Experimental Design Space, with lots of interesting courses & workshops. Check out our events pages for details.