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Xela, March 1, 2010. This month’s topics are:

  • Popping: Xela’s buses undergo first-ever inspections
  • Flopping: Chinese make perfect and fake Guatemala-style textiles
  • Adios Juegos Olímpicos del Invierno

thumbs-up-poppping

Popping! Bus Inspections

Glory be! Each and every one of those minibuses traversing the streets of Xela will undergo an inspection to determine its roadworthiness. The idea is to make them safer for passengers. From the sight of them, we’d guess maybe 1/3 at best should pass, maybe 1/2 once bribes are factored in. Still, we admire the effort.

This effort leads us to ask the obvious: when will the drivers be inspected for their driving skills?

thumbs-down-floppingFlopping! Counterfeit Guatemala-style Textiles

As if the pirated DVDs, “Adidos” running shoes and dodgy Q100 bills weren’t enough, Guatemala now has to worry about a new branch of the counterfeiting industry. It seems that some wily operators in China, Vietnam and India are now manufacturing Guatemalan-style textiles and huipiles and passing them off as the real Chapin thing, selling them for 15% less than the originals in stores in the U.S. How do you tell a fake? How the hell would we know? “The machines and technology that they have produce textiles so exact that they look like they’ve been woven by hand” said a representative from the Guatemalan Clothing and Textile Association.

Adios Juegos Olímpicos del Invierno

Did you catch any of the Winter Olympic Games last month? They were pretty easy to miss if you get your information fix from local media…or if you’re in “I am ignoring my f-ing country” rant mode. Guatemala’s most serious newspaper, Prensa Libre, had a tiny story each day – smaller than the results from pee wee soccer – merely listing the medal count and a dry recount of the highlights. There was no local TV coverage. But, hey, that’s no criticism. Those of us from snow country use winter sports to survive the 9-month winters. Why put yourself through one if you don’t have to?

Still, La Prensa’s news round-ups failed to capture the drama and excitement of the Games. Despite the valid criticisms – that they have become too commercialized, that they’ve lost their amateur mission – the Olympics still kick ass.

How could you not get fired up for the Canada vs. U.S. hockey game, with Canada’s sense of self worth on the line? Then there’s the gayer than Elton John Johnny “Lady Gaga” Weir. Can you honestly admit you weren’t curious to see his newest outfit? And finally, how can you not want to lace up your racing skates and jump onto the short-track oval (for cold roller derby!) with Apolo Ohno or onto the big oval with Sven Kramer. So smooth, so cool. Anyway, excuse me – I’m off to order my new curling broom on Ebay.

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