We know what you’re thinking: This patch of weather is so awesome that there’s no way it can ever end. Well, sorry to pop your bubble, friends, but INSIVUMEH, the snappily-named government department in charge of forecasting the weather (who, incidentally, are no more useless than their international counterparts) have sounded the death knell: The rainy season is coming, and it’s coming on May 1.
But before we start busting out old Ann Peebles songs (anybody? no? TGF google…) can I just remind you that every cloud does in fact have a silver lining? Even if that cloud is responsible for the downpour that has sent your house sliding down the nearest embankment.
Rainy season rocks for the following reasons:
1. It only rains in the afternoon, so quit your bitching already.
2. The rain provides the perfect cover for either a) doing nothing in the afternoon, or b) pretending to plan on doing something, but then having the perfect excuse for why you can’t actually follow through with it.
If you have invested in any type of waterproof footwear you also get the added bonus of the childlike glee afforded by stomping through ankle-deep water, an activity which will soon become available on every surface that sits at an incline of less than 30 degrees (including, but not exclusive to, your own patio if you have forgotten to clean out the drains. Which reminds me…).
Another bonus of rainy season (provided that you don’t live in Zona 2) is that you get to feel all smug about the fact that you don’t live in Zona 2, as that area was built on a flood plain that used to be a river-fed swamp.
God bless those daredevil early city planners. They really knew how to make other people live on the edge.
Even a mild drizzle will see the entire zone a meter deep in manky drain water as residents resignedly perform the annual ceremony of moving all their belongings up onto the second floor while the people who live in one-story houses start calling relatives who have extra space on their second floor. It’s a regular media event and the only really surprising thing is that it gets reported as if it were some great surprise, year after year. Film at 11.
So snuggle up with a good book or whatever your favorite vice is, and get ready to ride it out folks: here in the Land of the Eternal Spring, the next scheduled spring-like weather is due about six months from now.
P o p p i n g
You may not know it, but Xela’s nickname is the Cradle of Culture, which at some times seems like a cruel joke and at others fits the bill perfectly. It seems like we’re on an upswing, though – last month’s FLEX literary festival was a raging success and May’s Xelajú Es… looks to be every bit as good as last year’s.
read more of "Stuff"
As told by Colin Shadel
Every neighborhood has its drunk, and ours is no exception. Don Arturo is a harmless enough old fellow – the only time we really hear from him is when he comes home late from the cantina and begins pounding on the door because his wife, the long-suffering Doña Angelica, has locked him out.
read more of "The Bolo and the Rooster"
A consistently reliable indicator of how a country is developing is its public transport system. As a country’s economy develops it can afford to spend money on safer and more comfortable transport. If you travel around Mexico these days, even in second class buses, you get a relatively comfy seat all to yourself with enough leg room so that you don’t have to travel with your knees bent up to your chest. Go further south to countries such as Argentina and you can catch yourself a bus with almost fully-reclining seats, blankets, hostesses and a hot dinner. Here in Guatemala the so called “pullman” buses are on the rise, with companies adding more and more destinations to their repertoire with each year that passes. So does this mean that the infamous chicken buses will soon be a thing of the past in Guatemala? And, more importantly, will they be missed?
We think so. Sure, when it comes to taking a pullman bus you get your own seat with a head-rest that’s high enough for someone taller than a five year-old child to rest their head against. But then you lose out on making friends with your neighbour after you’re practically forced to sit in their lap whilst sharing your two-person seat with three others.
read more of "On the Road"
P o p p i n g or F lo p p i n g ??
Pope Francis I
March 2013 will be best remembered as the month when the whole of the Catholic world (and much of the rest) went into Pope-mania, following the (shock-horror!) announcement that Pope Benedict VII had decided to resign from his supposedly lifelong, God-ordained position as the head of the Catholic church. This was promptly followed by a barrage of speculation about who could replace him, as the Cardinals mused over their options whilst billowing black smoke from Vatican. After much deliberation, the Cardinals decided to elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Benedict’s successor. So what has the verdict been since then – a popping or a flopping choice?
read more of "Stuff"
by Susana Raymundo
I’m always thinking of my hometown of Nebaj, how I miss it! I miss its cold rain and icy temperatures getting right into the marrow of my bones. I miss seeing hailstones the size of a peach pit without a single drop of rain falling from the sky. I miss my little solitary neighbourhood with only 5 houses made of adobe and wood. I miss the icy water of the rivers, lakes and springs where I would lose my plastic sandals, while my mother washed the clothes of our family with snakes basking in the sun just meters from her.
read more of "Missing Nebaj"
by Diana Pastor
In my previous article, I spoke a bit about the Garifuna, one of the two non-Mayan ethnic groups in Guatemala. In this month’s edition, I’m going to tell you a little about the Xincas, who live in eastern Guatemala, occupying parts of Jalapa, Jutiapa and Santa Rosa. A Guatemalan writer states that the Xincas were one of the original inhabitants that gave the greatest resistance to the Spanish invasion of 1524. However, despite their fierce opposition to the Spanish, the Xincas were finally defeated and made into slaves, like the Mayans.
read more of "The struggle between the small and large peoples of Guatemala"
New era or not, 2013 certainly seems to be whizzing by so far and I, for one, am in need of a holiday. Well, fortunately just a few more weeks and the whole of Latin America gets a week off as they spring into Jesus fever for Semana Santa (Holy Week). That’s one of the great benefits of moving to a country which is far more religiously devout than you own – you get to take all their religious holidays off from work, even if you won’t be celebrating them quite as fervently as the locals. And you will most definitely see a lot of religious fervour during Holy Week here in Guatemala, which makes it a wonderful time to be in the country, even if you’re not one to buy into the whole Jesus thing.
There are celebrations held across all the towns and cities in the country, each with their own personalities, eccentricities and specialities. However, the Semana Santa religious processions, organised by each Catholic Church in town, are the staple ingredient of Semana Santa festivities and will be found no matter where you go. Each consists of participants of all ages proceeding through the streets surrounded in a cloud of billowing incense, and accompanied by your standard array of noisy marching bands. You will also see huge floats carrying JC and the Virgin Mary which are heaved across town on the shoulders of members of the local orders, dripping with sweat as they lug the colossal weight (often several thousand pounds) down the streets under the blazing hot sun whilst dressed in their thick robes and smurf-like hats.
If you make a pass by the churches you can also check out the elaborate alfombras, carpets or welcome mats made from dyed sawdust, pine needles and flowers.
read more of "Holy Holidays"
P o p p i n g
New transport system on the cards??
Before we go on with our Popping section for this month, we need to issue the warning that this piece of “news” is solely based on promises made by local politicians, both incumbent and aspiring, and so relying on them to bear fruit is about as useful as relying on the weatherman to tell you whether its going to rain or not tomorrow. But anyway, cynicism aside, according to El Quetzalteco, there has been some talk, and rather wishy-washy promises, going around Xela’s political circles about finally trying to upgrade Xela’s inner-city transport system. There’s certainly a lot of enthusiasm for the idea amongst Xela resident, for whom the fun of holding onto the railings of a minibus for dear life as its hurtles through the city is starting to wear thin. It’s going to certainly take some ingenuity to come up with something that works though, since our streets are too narrow for a Trans-Metro style system. So don’t go expecting anything anytime soon!
By Diana Pastor
The Maya are perhaps the biggest attraction for tourists to our country. However, there are two other major ethnic groups in Guatemala, less known than the Mayas but no less interesting. These are the the Xincas and the Garifunas. In this article, I will tell you a little about the latter.
The Garifuna of Guatemala can be found in the department of Izabal. The origin of this word is not well known. How the Garifuna culture came about is a story that goes back many years, to the sixteenth century. It is assumed that the first Garifuna were African slaves that the Spanish brought with them to serve them in their colonies of America. But some of the cargo ships on which they travelled were wrecked and ended up on the coast of what is known today as St. Vincent, an island of the Lesser Antilles. Here lived the Caribbean Indians, who received the Garifunas into their communities. Both groups mixed over time, resulting in a melting pot of lifestyles, physical features and language. Consequently, the Garifuna language is a mixture of Arawak (the language of the Caribbean Indians on the island) and some words from African languages.
read more of "Los Garifunas – A Hidden Treasure"