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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.

¿Por qué estás tan enojada?

By Emily Ellis

A Guide To Bartending in Xela

If you find yourself running through the quetzales a little too fast, never fear: there are plenty of ways to pick up a little extra cash in Xela. Fortunately for all of you extranjeros, a lot of popular drinking establishments like to keep at least one token gringo on staff. While working in the service industry anywhere presents its own set of challenges, waiting on the populace of Quetzaltenango is a little different. Having now worked at several fine establishments in our fair city, allow me to present you with a few tips to keep in mind should you ever find yourself on the other side of the bar:

Mining in Guatemala – A Necessary Evil?

By Diana Pastor

There are many of us Guatemalans who don’t like the mining industry. But we also understand that certain elements of mining are needed to sustain lifestyles both inside & outside of this country, such as the extraction of key non-metallic minerals (e.g. limestone & clay), which are more widely available that the precious metals such as gold & silver that can also be found in Guatemala. The extraction processes for the latter are extremely harmful & dangerous, both for the environment and for local populations – as has been demonstrated through the experiences of the Montana Exploradora and the Marlin mines that are found in the San Marcos Department.

In San Miguel Ixtahuacán, where the Marlin Mine is installed, the levels of lead and mercury contamination have become excessive. Air pollution caused by opencast mining has had a shocking impact and the ensuing reduction of local flora and fauna has been inevitable. Moreover, the productive capacity of the soil in the surrounding area has decreased significantly. The deterioration of houses is another very common problem for the residents of San Miguel and water shortages have been brought about by the substantial amount of liquid that is drained for use at the mine.

Recipe of the Month: Caldo de Res

by Simone Riddle

One thing to note with ‘caldos’ (stews in English) is the Guatemalan obsession of cooking their vegetables whole. Why waste all that time chopping verduras into bite-sized chunks when you can cook them in their entirety? This nutritious Guatemalan ‘caldo’ is available in most comedores or mercados but tastes even better homemade, especially if you just got your fresh produce from domingos organicos. Huisquil (a hard round veg with a green prickly skin) – love it or hate it – tastes at its best in any kind of caldo. So, if you’ve got one lurking at the back of your cupboard & you have no idea what to do with it, this may just be the recipe for you!

I’m never too sure which cuts of beef to ask for. I’m told Costilla de res o hueso de paloma work well for this recipe but if you tell the butcher which dish you’re preparing, they usually know which cut is best to use. You ideally want beef sold on the bone in order to make a really tasty stock. If not, you’ll need to add a stock cube to give it some extra flavour.

Everything Gardens

By Juan Jardinero


Bill Mollison
There’s a saying in organic gardening circles: “everything gardens.” What this means is that nothing in nature works on its own, including us. Plants, microbes, fungi and animals can work together harmoniously to successfully produce food.  Instead of controlling everything in our organic gardens, we can get better results if we sit back and let other organisms do some of the work for us. First, we can start by observing existing patterns in our gardens, and developing an understanding of what plants need and can provide to your garden. This approach changes us from owners or managers in our gardens into relationship guides whose main job is to nudge the garden’s natural processes gently in a direction that meets our needs. So knowing and understanding some of the relationships between plants can be of tremendous help to ensure a productive yield but also a low management self-regulating garden

Football Fever!

Portada XW107 smallExperiencing football fever in Guatemala is a lot like being surrounded by football fanatics back home in England, in that the populations of both countries tend to get very excited about a sport that, when it comes down to it, their national teams really aren’t very good at.

England, embarrassingly for a country with perhaps the longest-running history of playing modern-day football, hasn’t won the football world cup since 1966. Added to that, we haven’t even managed to win the EUFA European Championship once in its 54 year history. Nevertheless, around this time before each world cup you will hear an endless array of unintelligible theories (to the football novice, anyway) from hopeful Englishmen about why this year England will definitely take the cup home. Only  to then watch the national team perform abysmally and be consequently forced to blame the poor result on the obviously biased referee, or the dodgy tactics of the conquering team.

Guatemala, for all their valiant efforts, have sadly never even made it through the world cup qualifiers (although, supposedly that will all change if Guatemalans are to believe Presidential hopeful Antonio Baldizón´s absurd promises & vote him through to president at next year´s general election). To add insult to the injury of coming oh-so-close to qualifying this time round, Guatemala were beaten by a country where football is so unimportant it is not even called by its real name. In the subsequent 2013 Copa Centroamericana, Guatemala landed themselves in sixth place, managing to best only Nicaragua, the sole Central American country where football is superseded by baseball as the nation´s most popular sport.



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Xela’s Wicked Wit

Well this year’s rainy season got off to a good start, didn’t it? It only took one heavy downpour last month for Xela’s pathetic drainage system to overflow and convert the streets into rivers. And not only that, but residents from affected areas were soon complaining of stomach illnesses because… well we’ll leave it to your imaginations as to what also got mixed up in the flood waters and the main water supply.

But not to fear, quetzaltecos were quick to lighten the tone on the social networks, blasting the Muni with furious but hilarious satire of the flood incompetence. One post showed a picture of a street-turned-river with the text: “Who needs to go to Xocomil if we’ve now got El Rio de las Americas right here in Xela?” A cartoon depicted Mito (Xela’s Mayor) dressed up as a lifeguard, reading: “On Alert for Winter. Your Muni: Working for you.”  Another showed a picture of a swimmer diving off his toilet, exhorting people “to not be so pessimistic, mucha, the water’s great!” with a picture of a smiling Mito below, exclaiming: “that’s the spirit, my boy!” Some clever photo-shopping in other pictures showed tiendas offering boats for sale, as well as speed boats & water slides getting in on the action on the streets.