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.
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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!
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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 Xela once a region where apples grew in almost every home have now been replaced by homogenous tasteless imported apples.
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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.
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“¿¡No comes carne?!” exclaims the wide-eyed Guatemalan, mouth open in disbelief after you´ve just told them that you don´t eat 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.
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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.
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By Richard Brown
Slanderous was the article my dear Spanish partner wrote in the last issue of XelaWho about what it is like to date this gringo. Here is my rebuttal, informed by the teaching of our epitomal General Patton that a good offense is the best defense. Patton also said that the will to win could determine the fate of a culture. Indeed, in my partner this will is weak, like her physical constitution. Just as in soccer it is socially acceptable to tie a game, it is socially acceptable in Spain to sleep during the day, every day. It appears that the American will to excel and to innovate is matched in Spain only by the will to nap. The bed calls to the Spaniard like free enterprise calls to the American.
Lazy red Spaniards. During the workweek, my partner spends as much time as possible lying down, like a soccer player. Specifically, like Marcelo of Real Madrid; her, no, our soccer team. I accept that the name of my, no, our football team, the Washington Redskins, comes from the slur settlers would use to refer to their victims as they burned villages and killed people. But at least my team picks what they put on their uniforms, even if it’s the disembodied head of an Indian. We don’t have ‘Fly Emirates’ stamped over our hearts like Christianaldo. How shameless.
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By Diana Pastor
In last month’s article, we discussed the faces on Guatemala’s bank notes, and so continuing in this vein this month we’re going to discover a little about who, and what, is to be found on Guatemala’s coins. Whilst it can be a bit tedious to learn about the long list of Guatemalan Presidents that we find on our bank notes, on the coins we can instead find lots of interesting national and cultural symbols which perhaps are even more interesting than the stories of the individuals that appear on our bank notes.
On the 5-cent coin we can find two national symbols. On one side you can see the ceiba tree, a beautiful representative of the biodiversity of the country. On the other side you will find Guatemala’s national emblem, which consists of a quetzal on the declaration of independence, two rifles and laurel branches. Its value is negligible but it still continues to circulate in the country.
read more of "The Money Masters: Part 2"
by Simone Riddle
Last month we learned how to cook arroz a la chapin. Now it’s time to learn el plato principal. Jocon is not as complicated as you might think. It uses the traditional Mayan method of toasting sesame and pumpkin seeds, blending them to make a paste with bread or tortillas and using this as a base for many typical dishes. Once you’ve got the hang of this process, other recipes like el famoso Pepian will be bien faciles.
What you’ll notice is that the more traditional Mayan dishes like Jocon are in fact résaludables. High levels of malnutrition in the western highlands can be linked to the marginalization of the Mayan people over time to the least fertile lands. This made room for rich landowners to use the best land to grow produce for export. Add to this the influx of cheap processed foods like packet soups and you can see how malnutrition and diabetes are now major health issues affecting rural indigenous communities today.
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by Juan Jardinero
“…it may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures.”
Earthworms are special creatures; their job is to plow the soil by tunneling through it. Their tunnels provide the soil with passageways through which air and water can circulate, and that’s important because soil microorganisms and plant roots need air and water just like we do. Without some kind of plowing, soil becomes compacted, air and water can’t circulate in it, and plant roots can’t penetrate it.
Even the ancient Greeks understood the importance of Earthworms, Aristotle referred to them as “the intestines of the earth”. This is something we should appreciate because earthworm droppings — called castings when deposited atop the ground — are rich in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and these are all important nutrients for healthy, prospering ecosystems. In your own backyard you might be able to confirm that grass around earthworm burrows grows taller and greener than grass just inches away. Even in ancient Egypt, farmers were not allowed to touch earthworms for fear of offending the god of fertility.
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