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Grow Your Own: Backyard Chickens

by Juan Pablo Echeverria

“How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?”

— George Carlin

So you’ve been working on your garden for a few months, you have your tomatoes growing, your herbs have fully established themselves and are growing well. Your lettuce and other greens are providing you with your daily vitamins and minerals. All is well in your backyard food garden. You might now be ready to introduce a new element into your flourishing environment.  CHICKENS!

Having chickens as part of your garden will not only provide you with eggs and meat but will also complete the cycle within your garden as they are great sources of nitrogen and can help you produce the soil you´ll need to continue to grow more delicious and nutritious food.

So what does it take to have happy, healthy chickens in your garden?

Happy Birthday to Us!

Portada XW103 smallHappy Birthday to us! XelaWho turns the grand old age of 9 years old this month. That’s pretty good going, we’d say – if we were a dog we’d be 63 years old now, which is really old. But fortunately we’re not, so there’s still a good few more years of life to be squeezed out of us yet (we hope).

It is often said that with old age comes maturity and wisdom – but sadly neither of these things have yet to materialise at XelaWho, so you can rest assured that our ninth birthday is not going to lead to some sort of revelation or mid-life crisis in which we decide to bore the socks off you by filling XelaWho with actual serious content. You all have Revue Magazine for that.

A lot has happened since we started this modest magazine way back in 2005. So what better way celebrate our 9th Birthday Special Edition than by looking back at some of the highlights and lowlights of the past 9 years, both in Guatemala and across the world? We therefore present to you our definitively inconclusive list of “things that have happened since 2005”:

* 1.24 billion people have been born – equivalent to almost the entire population of China – while half a billion have died, leading to an increase of around 700 million people in the world’s population

* Guatemala won its first ever medal at the Olympics.

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Nice One Germany

Alas, that’s it for the Football World Cup for another 4 years – now the population of Xela will have to invent some other kinds of excuses in order to drink copious amounts of beer at 10 in the morning (September’s coming up soon guys, don’t get too twitchy!).

For someone whose enthusiasm for football ranges from totally uninterested to “alright then, I’ll come and watch the game but only if we watch it somewhere that serves alcoholic beverages,” I’ll be the first to admit that it was a pretty thrilling competition. From some of the amazing performances by  the underdogs (a special shout out going to Costa Rica – so close to reaching the semis!), the abysmally embarrassing performances by some of the “big names” (Spain, England and a particularly big WTF from Brazil’s last two matches), to the nail-biting games decided in the last few minutes, it was certainly a fun ride! And a big congrats to the Germans for walking away triumphantly with the cup at the end of it all.

Xela & the Zombie Apocalypse

by Emily Ellis

The recent violent tremor that shook Xela’s residents in their beds on July 7th is another sign of what many of us have expected for a while: that the apocalypse is upon us. As everyone who has seen that Brad Pitt movie or read The Walking Dead comics knows, with the apocalypse comes the zombies. But never fear: I’m taking the time to put your minds at ease, and lay out the reasons why Guatemala is the absolute best place to be for the end of the world.

There are multiple reasons why our fair Highlands make the perfect location to weather out the Zombie Apocalypse. For one thing, third-world countries are far better prepared to deal with the living dead. While fancy “developed” countries may boast well-trained armies and advanced technology, not of that will help when modern civilization goes to hell. Crouching in mountain caves, knowledge of medicinal plants, tolerating near starvation, guerrilla warfare – all these skills are necessary for surviving an onslaught of zombies, and given Guatemala’s recent tumultuous history, there are likely to be numerous residents prepared to leap into action should such a disaster occur again.

The Maize War and GM Seeds

by Diana Pastor

For many years, maize has been the main food of the indigenous peoples in North and Central America. Its origin is very old: the first records of using ears of corn date back to over 7000 years ago, and thanks to the work and care of our ancestors the crop was transformed into the corn that we know today. In Guatemala, maize has not only been important for its nutritional value, but because all parts of the plant have uses: the cobs, the covers, the leaves and the canes. Additionally, maize is a plant that grows rapidly and can be cultivated in a wide variety of different climates: warm, moderate, humid, dry or cold.

But the value of maíz goes far beyond these more practical uses. It also has a wonderful cultural value. For example, there are 4 basic varieties of colours: white, yellow, red and black / blue corn. Each of these colours of corn represents the four cardinal points, the four elements of earth, and the four energies of man. According to Pop Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayas, the Creator of Life, Heart of Heaven and the Earth, made ??several attempts to create man, all of which were imperfect, until he created the hombre de maíz (the man of corn) and that was when he was finally satisfied with his work.

Diary of a Homestay

by Susanne K

My homestay family is devoutly Catholic and they have a lot of fun together. The parents, four grown children, a pregnant daughter-in-law and her two-year old son all live under the same roof. This is not an uncommon arrangement in Guatemala where families are generally close and rents are high in relation to incomes.

This family’s house is large, two storied and has been under construction for 14 years.  Each night the family huddle around a tiny round table for dinner with a makeshift kitchen in a nearby corner. A large unfinished, once modern, dining and cooking area sits a few metres away. It is filled with boxes, junk and still-boxed dishwashers and other appliances waiting to be installed. There is a mountain of rubble in another corner next to a spiral staircase which leads to the unfinished living quarters on the first floor.

Recipe of the Month: Bochado de la Reina

Has the rainy season started to get you down? Can you only get as far as the tiendita on the corner of your street because the thought of spending the afternoon traipsing up to la Demo through streams of water fills you with dread? Need some homemade comfort food to satisfy your sweet tooth and you can’t face another packet of las galletas Chichis? This has to be the simplest dessert you can make with all of the ingredients easily available from your local tienda.  Guatemala’s superior version of bread pudding is this month’s recipe and it must be tried!

Note: You will need an oven for this recipe. If you don’t have one, find out which of your friends has an oven before you start this recipe!

Grow Your Soil

by Juan Jardinero

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
— Wendell Berry.

It has taken me a few years as a gardener to really understand the importance and significance of soil.  Soil is a mixture of many things collected over time. Rocks, living and dead plants and animals, mostly of microscopic size, air and water and other organic matter make up soil. Soil plays a big part in the way that plants grow. Many modern farmers believe that they don´t grow plants, they build fertile soil and this soil is what grows the plants. Though plants obtain some of the raw material for their growth from the air, they depend totally on the roots to gather most of the necessary moisture and fertility. Roots make use of it not only for anchoring plants and holding them in place, but also as storage for food elements and water.

#SpanishFails 101

Portada XW108 smallAttracting as many aspiring Spanish speakers as Amsterdam does pot smokers, Xela can certainly lay claim to being a Central American haven for those that want to pick up El Español. However, as with any language, getting to grips with the particulars of Spanish can be a tricky task, and one that can often go embarrassingly wrong. And because there’s not many things that are more entertaining that laughing at other people’s mistakes, for this month’s editorial we’ve compiled some of the most embarrassingly hilarious Spanglish errors that Spanish teachers & speakers alike in this city have reveled in being witness to. Let’s start with a few of the most basic, & widely committed, mistakes:

When you’re feeling embarrassed about something, try not to blurt out “estoy embarazado/a”, which means quite a different thing all together, and could result in you being congratulated by your Spanish speaking friends on your pregnancy & being asked when your baby is due.

Another common mistake is to use the phrase “estoy caliente” when you’re hot, instead of “tengo calor.” Estoy caliente actually means that you’re feeling horny. So the next time you’re getting hot & sweaty busting some serious salsa moves at La Parranda, it would probably not be wise to tell your dance partner that you’re feeling caliente, otherwise they may end up concluding that tonight’s their lucky night. Unless, of course, all that saucy hip grinding has actually made you caliente, in which case go for it, we say – the sixties weren’t for nothing after all.

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Scares & Struts

July is shaping up to be an excellent month for cultural events.  On the 5th of July we have a National Salsa & Bachata Competition to look forward to – so for those that want to be wowed by some jaw-dropping dance moves, check out p15 for details & get yourself a ticket!

At midnight on Saturday 19th, Teatro Roma will be hosting a special performance of the famous fright-fest play The Woman in Black. Having seen this play before, albeit in English, I can confirm that it is indeed pant-wettingly scary – so if that’s something you’re into (horror stories, not peeing your pants) then make sure you get yourself a ticket in advance as it’s most likely to sell out. Tickets are Q70 before 13th July, Q100 after.