by Juan Pablo Echeverria
All around the world the search for sustainable lifestyles is something more and more people are attempting to do. Groups of committed thoughtful, talented, individuals from different backgrounds are coming together to promote ideas of sustainability through natural and organic systems. Since the mid-1970s the term Permaculture, coined by a couple of Australian scientists, has proposed a solution to some of the world’s most pressing agricultural, architectural, ecological and also economic problems. *Permaculture is the harmonious integration of all life kingdoms into an agriculturally productive ecosystems and socially just environments producing sound economic outcomes through systems management. It is a regenerative design system that promotes the use of biological solutions for today’s problems allowing for energy efficiency and abundance of yield. All of these ideas are well wrapped around a simple code of ethics: “care of the people, care of the earth and reinvestment in those ends.”
Guatemala, a land of incredible biodiversity and favorable conditions for growing an abundance of food and natural building materials, is now facing an ecological, agricultural and social crisis. Pollution of rivers and lakes, erosion, deforestation, intensive use of pesticides and herbicides and a lack of regard for basic environmental practices have forced us into an urgent need for new innovative solutions. Could that be Permaculture?
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P o p p i n g
Christmas is over and the New Year has started. And with this the constant explosions of firecrackers will also come to an end. Yes, they are fun, and they are pretty to stare at in the night. But some of them seriously sound like bombs going off right outside your room, at all hours of the evening, lit up by a 7 year old kid. And for those who have pets, Christmas is truly the scariest time of year for our furry friends. So yes, we love our “cohetes” but we are glad it´s over, see you till next year. Or until the next person on your street gets celebratory birthday firecrackers at 5am.
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by Simone Riddle
So it’s the New Year and most of us are on their post-Christmas diets having eaten way too many ‘tamales’ (a rice-based dish wrapped in leaves which is full of lard but soooooo good) on Noche Buena and Christmas day. There are few salads served here in Guatemala that are not covered with a thick dressing of mayonnaise so this recipe offers a quick, easy, and cheap Guatemalan alternative to the usual pasta salad option to keep us all on track with our New Year diets.
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by Diana Pastor
Throughout the past year, there were a large number of power outages in Quetzaltenango. The National Institute of Electrification (INDE), said the mayor owed 850 million quetzales for the municipal electricity service. INDE, threatened local quetzaltecos with a city-wide suspension of service. Such a huge amount of money like that might well have been better spent by investing in more intelligent forms of renewable energy production.
However, many of the governors in various communities across the country, rely on the large infrastructure projects as a means to preserve and secure their hold on power and many people appreciate the huge grey structures as one of the highest peaks of “development”. They are completely unaware that there are other projects that are undoubtedly more worth the investment, such as ecological projects that can bring large-scale benefits to communities and a hugely beneficial environmental impact.
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And so here we are again, everyone’s favourite month of the year has finally arrived for 2013. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about the world coming to an end on the 21st of December again this year, so we can dedicate all of our energies this month to eating mountains of food (and then promising to diet / exercise after the holidays), drinking far too much alcohol, leaving our Christmas shopping until the last minute, listening to the same 20 Christmas songs at least 50 times each and, of course, telling the most cringeworthy of jokes to each other during our Christmas parties.
Here at XelaWho we’ve had a very busy month opening up hundreds of Christmas crackers looking for the very best (/ worse) of Christmas jokes to bring to our readers so they can confidently win “the most cringeworthy joke award” at their Christmas parties. So without further ado, let us begin:
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P o p p i n g
Word of the Year
Give it up for Selfie! The Oxford Dictionary´s Word of the Year for 2013. Perhaps no better reflection of our social media-infused, vanity obsessed, 21st century lives than adding a new word to the Oxford Dictionary entirely dedicated to getting out a camera and taking a (normally rather ridiculous) photo of yourself in order to post it online and share with your friends and anyone else who might be interested (usually no one). The word´s actually been around since 2002 and its supposed first appearance was on an Australian internet forum where a poster used the term to refer to a photo he´d taken of himself because he got so drunk he´d fallen down the stairs and cut his lip open and wanted to share a picture of his war wounds with his friends. Variations include helfie (a selfie of just your hair…), welfie (a workout selfie… and you thought it couldn´t get any worse!) and, XelaWho´s favourite: belfie, a selfie of one´s posterior.
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Although not commonly seen in Xela, this atol recipe (the name used for hot drinks in the region, often made with corn) is perfect for the cold winter nights that are rapidly closing in on us. It’s a great drink to serve at your end of year fiestas and can be served as you see in the stalls in parque central, ‘con piquete’ or ‘sin piquete’ (with or without alcohol), depending on whether or not you need a little extra kick!
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Once, an extranjero said to me, “Honestly, some of the graffiti in Xela is really quite special. In my country, most works of graffiti are only associated with simple disobedience or with gangs of young delinquents. But not here. Here they are much more a form of artistic and social expression. ”
The truth is that the graffiti in Xela has evolved in recent years. It is very common to see quetzals painted on the walls around Xela, and even XelaWho once used a photo of one of these quetzals as the front cover for one of its editions. What sets the type of painting you see on the walls here with graffiti in many other countries is the message that is implicit within the paintings. There are paintings of flowers and animals, as well as of political, artistic and social characters or historical figures.
One piece that particularly caught my attention was a huge work of graffiti on the walls of what used to be the old Western military zone near the Montblanc Paiz Mall. There is the face of what appears to be an ancient Mayan man, and in each of the ornaments worn on his head there is a message written. Previously, I have also seen in a couple of places paintings of mushrooms growing in psychedelic looking gardens and, even though these works have now been painted over, they left me with a clear message: that graffiti in Xela is not only a manifestation of rebellion but also of creativity and social protest.
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What you’re holding in your hands is much more than the 100th edition of the little magazine known as XelaWho. Really, what it is is a testament to dumb-ass perseverance and a vindication of slacker culture worldwide.
It all started as all brilliant/ stupid plans do – with a collection of inquietudes. One, us English speakers here in Xela needed something to read. Two, we needed to know what was going on, preferably before it happened. And three, I needed something to do with myself as I whiled away the days here in my adopted mountain home.
Initial reactions were skeptical. Yoga Kevin made the now famous prediction that the magazine would be one page long. People said there would be no interest, or advertisers wouldn’t pay. But we stuck in there. Dumb-ass perseverance, remember?
Since those heady early days we’ve survived hurricanes, weathered the predictable onslaught of copycat “competition”, changed editors more often than we’ve changed underwear (sometimes waaay more), gone legit tax-wise, tripled our staff, halved our profits, tried out even more stupid, brilliant ideas (ref the ill-fated Color Cover Experiment. Compare and contrast with The Doomed From the Start San Pedro Section), grown (56 pages was the record), shrunk (20 was the all-time low), printed the only known photo published in Xela of two men kissing (and lost advertisers because of it), published the same editorial every September for the last eight years (thanks for noticing, Yoga Kevin), been called losers, posers and a whole lot of other stuff that wasn’t strictly true either, launched at least two writing careers, been responsible for at least one relationship breakdown (it was on the rocks, anyway), and generally done our best to inform, amuse, misinform and infuriate while providing what you have to admit is the best bathroom reading that Xela has to offer.
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P o p p i n g
El Guayo captured
It´s a rare occurrence when we can say that it´s been a good month for law enforcement in Guatemala, so lets take a moment to appreciate this achievement this month, as the chances are within a month or two we´ll relegating the law back to the Flopping section of the magazine when we find something new to moan about. But this month we can at least bring you a positive update on the not-so-positive story of the massacre in Salcajá in June this year, in which a gang stormed the local police station in broad daylight and shot dead eight police officers. October brought us the news that the purported leader of the raid, a drug trafficker known as “Guayo Cano”, was captured and arrested in Tuxtla, Mexico and has been transferred to Guatemala, signaling the successful completion of “Operation Dignity” by the armed forces and police of Guatemala .
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