Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Valhalla is the name of the Macadamia Plantation at San Miguel Dueñas, close to Antigua.
Here, amongst macadamia trees, we are having terrific pancakes made with macadamia flour and chuncks covered with macadamia butter and blueberry preserves, all grown in situm.

Monday, December 28, 2009


It is true the saying 'hang out with dull and be dull, hang out with smart and become smart'. Yesterday we spent a wonderful day with two very smart people one of the and archeologist. We were having a pic nic in a recreational club and they naturally started finding pre-columbian remains! As M says if you look you can find them almost anywhere and everywhere.

We found the piece of a pre-columbian knife done in obsidian a very common material used by all the different tribes in America. You can tell it was a knife by the double parallel chisel on the sides (pic 1) a cut that make a thin cutting edge (pic 2). On the top, you can see the flat place where they hit the stone to separate it from the bigger piece (pic 3) and on the back the ripple effect left on the stone from the impact (pic 4).





Sunday, December 27, 2009


From the north west.
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We are with our friends M and P. P's tells us his botanic teacher referred to this plant as the gallitos (roosters) that don't sing. It's botanic name is bromeliad and like the pashte they are epiphyte, plants that are hosted by trees but take no food or energy of it.
They are also commonly found in nativity scenes.
Info thanks to P.
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This type of plant hang from trees making them look aging. The pashte is commonly found in the nativity scenes.
Pashte grows usually on pines in cooler climates. I just took this pictures San Juan Sacatepequez.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009


This is an hojaldra another type of pan de manteca, the toasty ones. They are long and with sugar on top. Bakeries have maintained the price by reducing the size. The 'official' size is about 25% bigger an with a braid like design.

Friday, December 25, 2009


This is what you eat in Christmas and New Year's morning at my house.

It is noon while we are eating so firecrackers start going off for 10 minutes.

20 roman tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/2 a big onion

Cook all ingredients in a water less pot system with no water for 10 minutes or in a regular pot with some water for 15 minutes.
Blend all ingredients not to the point of soup. Bring back to the pot to boil. When boiling drop 12 eggs and let it keep boiling for 7 minutes.

Serve and add hot sauce to taste.

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Tamal negro is done simplistically speaking with chocolate on the sauce. It tastes sweeter than the red one, similar to the taste of mole. This is what I am having at 1:00 am on the 25th while we open gifts.

The girls where wondering why Santa came to the other houses while everyone was out with the firecrackers and he didn't come to our house. I told them he went looking for them in Colorado and he knows we like to leave him cookies so probably will wait until they go to bed.

We have combined the to traditions so we open friends and family gifts at midnight and wait for Santa to come after going to bed at 3.00 am!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009


After mass all the kids light up volcancitos, chiltepes, estrellitas, misiles, tronadores, varitas, etc.... all night there is a constant sound of crackers and a smell of powder in the air.

Then the excitement starts picking up as we get towards midnight. I have attached a 10 minute video where you will see and hear the lights and crackers going off starting five minutes after midnight to 5 minutes after midnight.

You will see that at some point of time I start running, that is because one the boxes of light flipped and started shooting all the light towards people!

Even though the economy situation definitely influenced the amount of money spent on powder it is still and impressive show of sight, smell and sound.

PS.I talked to Flora in Xela (Quetzaltenango) she said over there there were more firecracker and other fireworks than lights.



We just finished "midnight mass" and now we will wait along with family until midnight when the whole light up and explode in firecrackers.
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This is my cousin's Ana nativity scene. Notice the macademian nuts from the trip to the macademian plantation we went to (past post). The surface is covered with sawdust.
We are having lunch at theirs.
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We came to visit our friends but I don't have food to show you because F's birthday was last night so we found them still in bed.

The surface is pashte, a plant that hangs from the pine trees in the highlands. Baby Jesus is covered with a cloth to be uncovered at midnight.
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Torta con cafe is what we were offered and ate with delight at my Tia Elvy's house. It is a tradition that whenever you get a visitor to offer food and if you are the visitor the nice thing to do is to have even a small bite.
I tried to have only a small bite but I couldn't the taste was awesome it had a hint of cheese, I complemented it so excitedly I was even offered one to go!
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Today we will spend time visiting and delivering gifts. This is our first stop, the house of my tia Elvy. I will keep blogging through out the day.
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This leaf of pacaya is the basis for the expression "pareces hoja de pacaya".

It is a leaf that was common to found at any party as decoration. Its used in the city now has been substituted by paper decorations, lights, ribbons,etc. During the Christmas season you can still see it adorning the nativity scene.

You might have already guessed that if somebody says to you that you are like a pacaya leaf is because you are found at every party!
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I am still blogging about ponche because I am at my friend birthday party and I was offered Ponche with Piquete which made me want to share this expression.
When something is "con piquete" it means it has spirit in it, so salud!
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The Manzanilla (Manzanilla, Crataegus guatemalensis), grows abundantly in the Volcan de Agua and the harvesting season start in october and goes through january. It is a small fruit resembling an apple hence the name manzanilla (find a pinture of the tree here). I blogged about it previously in the post Manzanilla en Dulce.

The Manzanilla is a sight, smell and taste of Christmas. During this time you can find them at almost any market sold in strings. I paid Q8.00 per string. They are commonly used to adorn the Nativity scene or the Christmas tree but I have also seen them hanging as with pine strings as decoration outside and inside the house.


There are variations to make Ponche as households.

The easy version is pour the content of a bag of dried fruit such as the one in the picture (this one includes: apple, sugar cane, papaya, raisins, prunes, manzanilla, guayaba, piña, plátano, tamarind, cinnamon and hibiscus) in a pot with 3lt of cold water, 2 cups of sugar and bring to boil. Cover and let it slow cook for 30 minutes. Serve hot with rum (the latter is my suggestion) drink in a cold winter day.

FLORA'S GREAT PONCHE RECIPE - From Chuicavioc Quetzaltenango-
1 papaya
5 apples
1/2 pound of prunes
1/4 pound of raisin
1 pinapple
1 platano
1 coconut
4 cloves
sugar to taste .5 - 2 cups

Dice (small) all the fruit except prunes and raisins place in a pot with all ingredients except sugar add twice as much water as fruit, bring it to boil then lower the heat and let it slow cook. Ten minutes into the cooking start adding the sugar, let it cook for a total of 30 minutes.

Let me know if you try it!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Another Guatemalan holiday staple!

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Prunes and raisins are ingredients I love in a tamal but are not commonly found anymore.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009


A reader asked me for the recipe of Champurradas a 'cookie' I've grown up with but haven't had the curiosity to find out how it was done and in some ways I wish I hadn´t found out!

Champurradas are under the category of what we call 'Pan de Manteca'. For breakfast a snack people say let's get pan de manteca and under that category fall various types of bread, cortadas, batidos, conchas, conchitas, batidas, besos, etc, and hojaldras, champurradas, etc, the latter group being 'pan de manteca tostado' (toasted). I knew that basically all are done with the same dough variating mainly on the shape, topping and time in the oven. The name Pan de Manteca should have hinted that the main ingredient is manteca (lard, shortening)....


5 ounces of shortening
5 ounces of sugar
A handful of soft flour (not the normal gold medal kind)
Sesame seeds
Mix the first three ingredients, make a ball and flatten the ball to the size and thickness you want the champurrada to be. Sprinkle with sesame seed.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350F

After knowing how the are made I figured I need to stay away from them as much as possible, but when I do have them I will have them either with frijoles volteados on top or dunken in coffee! (although the etiquette says you can only dunk them when you are at home with no guests).

PS. The recipe was give by Daniel a former boy now a teacher at Miguel Magone where, among many good things they do, they run a bakery.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This is a picture of Plaza España lit up for Christmas.

The hustory of the fountain at the center of this plaza told by my cousin Jorge, whose house I am at right now and where as I am blogging I am eating a delicious tamal is:

The fountain built in honor of Carlos III, circa 1773 was first in the central plaza of Guatemala city, identified as the place of public executions.

During the presidential period of Jose Maria Reyna Barrios the fountain was removed from that location and stored as you do any junk in your barn to later be found at the penitentiary in 1931 by Ernesto Vitteri and placed in its current location in a land donated by the Yurrita family.

This landmark was named Plazuela España until recently that the Spain Embassy petition that it be renamed Plaza Esapaña because Plazuela es pejorative, nevertheless it is still called by the majority of the people by its original name.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009


Born in Villaflor, Canary Islands March 19,1651. Arrived in Guatemala in 1651 at 25 years of age. He entered the order of 4 St. Francis and died April 25, 1667.
He sanctified his life exercising charity at heroic dimensions. Founded a Hospital for the poor. During the night he paced the streets of Antigua with a small bell repiting: Remember brothers, that only one soul we owe and if we shall loose it we will never gain it back.

St. Peter Betancur was raised to the altars the 31st of July, 2002. His tomb is at the church of San Francisco in Antigua Guatemala.

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We are 6 women eating this very typical dessert and having a feud about what the authentic recipe is...

According to Flora first peel them and boil them in red sugar (found only on her town) and cinnamon. According to Lucky boil them for thirty minutes without sugar and then peel them.

On the first choice keep boiling them for 1 hour until it becomes syrup. Lucky's way is to after peeling them bring them boil them with sugar and cinnamon.

Serve eat but don't swallow the three little pits inside.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Felices Pascuas

Felices pascuas is another way to wish Merry Christmas and Pascua is also the name for this flower characteristic of this time of year in the tropical belt.
Pascua: Poinsettias.

Like Vivi said the Poinsettias grow year round in Guatemala I have seen bushes as high as 10 feet. When living in Kansas I kept my Poinsettias alive until Spring and the transplanted them to the yard hoping I could get some growth during the summer to then bring them back in fall but the experiment didn´t work. Maybe someone out there with a green thumb gives it a try and reports back.

The Poinsettias come in white, pink, spotted white and red. My mom has planted the white one in her yard in Guatemala but they always transform into red.

The pictures were taken at a nursery in the town of San Miguel Dueñas south west of Antingua and Ciduad Vieja.

Macademian Nut

The macademian nut is another of the many crops that can be grown in Guatemala. The Valhalla plantation West of Ciudad Vieja welcomes visitors to tour the plantation, shop macademian products and have breakfast amongst the Macademian trees.
More of this post to come, this was was done live from my mobile.
CIAV, Cambiando Vidas

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Street Views

Devil Pinatas for tomorrow's Quema del Diablo.

Street Views

This is a test. I want to start a series with everyday instant snapshots of daily life.
In this picture a man walking by one of the new TransMetro station, in the back the statue of Justo Rufino Barrios and in the background the old Rail Road Station now a museum.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Do you remember the book Canche Peroles? The one I wrote about in a previous post.

The second book of the trilogy is out, the name is Nariz de Frijoles. Canche Peroles, Nariz de Frijoles is an expression meaning you are blond but you are still a bean eater. Blond with beans on your nose. El Canche, who managed to changed his life in the dumpster to a successful life and an Architect and family man, now adopts Danilo a boy like the one he used to be. The novel describes the struggles to find identity and teaches us to dream and to put those dreams in prospective.

You can find more information on Ruben and his work here.

I have to brag that in the last page there is a special thanks to yours truly!

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Thursday, December 3, 2009


At the end of the post there is an open question I would appreciate you could answer.

In 2003 we moved from Guatemala to the US, those 6 years have changed me forever in terms of broadening my vision of things, particularly the understanding of the beautiful and enriching similarities and differences amongst cultures.

For some reason a good number of my dearest American friends are families with adopted children either from my country or other countries. We surrounded ourselves in general with worldly people from whom we could learn and with whom I could share my heritage, making a point on the fact that we are Guatemalan not Mexicans (not that there is anything wrong with Mexicans.) :)

For the last year we´ve been off and on in the US, kind of between countries, but as of 3 weeks ago we are oficially back in Guatemala where I truly believe I belong! I am excited to be here because I feel and know I can make a difference in my country. I been blessed with being privileged with education and a comfortable social and economical status for Guatemalan standards, hence I feel extremely responsible to promote the change that Guatemala needs through my work and maybe even political participation.

Currently I am involved in a Masters Program in Guatemala and with my group we have decided to present as a final project a Plan called Guatemala Te Quiere (the name is open for suggestions) the Vision is to be a second home to our adopted children.

The service that Americans and other foreign nationals have done to Guatemala by adopting less fortunate children is beyond many people's notion and deserves attention. The project Guatemala Te Quiere will have an awareness component for the locals and an array of resources, services and service opportunities to the adoptive families.

I want to ask for your help: Please make a wish list of resources, services, travel experiences, cultural events in the US outside the US, stores, service opportunities, cultural exchanges, etc, you would wish you could have access to. If you so decide, also comment on what are issues that worry you or stop you from traveling back to Guatemala. Concerns about your child's feeling etc.


PS. Feel free to pass the word around, you can answer via comment, facebook, or email.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Two weeks ago my parents went for a church meeting to the town of Rabinal in the department of Baja Verapaz. They laughed when I asked them to bring me a Chinchin. We had just finished unloading the moving truck with gazillion boxes of 'cunches' -knick knacks- and I wanted more!

Well the 'Chinchines' known in other cultures as maracas are typical of that region. The locals pick the fruit 'morro', cook it, take off the meat, let it dry and then hand paint it with natural colors from plants or insects. Today they probably also use commercial paint. Inside the Chinchines to produce the sound there are pebbles picked at the river. All the previous picture was described by Doña Delfina the very loved lady that works with us helping with the house chores and who was born in Rabinal.

The Chinchines are most often used during Christmas season for the posadas.


I grew up having Sopa de Frijol about once a week, as I have written in a previous post. Back then I only recall adding dry cheese and croutons. Nowadays we have gone nuts with it, partly because of restaurants and cafeterias adding excitement and value to an other wise Guatemalan staple.

Last night we were tired to cook so we had Sopa de Frijol:


4 cans of black bean soup
4 avocados diced
1 onion dices
cilantro and parsley chopped
Queso de Capas or Fresco (either buy it at a Mexican store or substitute for Feta Cheese)
Left over tortillas cut in strips and friend

Heat the soup and serve. Each person will 'contruct' its own soup adding all the above ingredients to taste.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This saying goes: the one that does something by its own will, will do it and keep on, even if that involves things that are apparently not favorable.

The one who dies out of his or her own will, will do so even if he or she has to be buried standing up.

I keep thinking about this saying in leu of our move to Guatemala. There are many things we will miss from the US and objectively we might be better off over there yet we are here and every time I found something that I am having to bear thanks to this decision I just think to myself: El que por su gusto muero aunque lo entierren parado!

The picture is the Buffalo Bill gravesite in Golden Colorado.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ever since I have been back in my element, expressions I have not used for so long have been coming out of my mouth, one of them being QUE LECHE!.

Que leche would literally mean What milk! but the idiomatic meaning is What luck! or Que mala leche! What bad luck!

I think I recently used it when I was talking to Walter my cousin`s husband about his travels through Mexico and how much leche you need to have to come out with no major incidents.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This is the week of anticipation to the Day of the Dead, November 1st and one of the most waited upon dishes of people in Guatemala City.

I have often compared the "1ero de Noviembre" to Thanksgiving in the sense of family thinking of ancestors around a wonderful meal.

I will blog more about the dish and the day but for now I leave you with the big display of the meats being sold for the fiambre, which a lot of them can only be found during this time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Z is for ZAPOTE

Zapote is spelled with Z in Central America and with S in Mexico and South America. I am glad because I wanted to blog about something more interesting than zanahoria when I got to Z.

The Zapote texture is like cutting into a refrigerated pumpkin pie. The texture is like you were having natures guilt free fudge.

Posts part of the series A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.

Friday, October 9, 2009


INJERTO is the name of a fruit that is the 'injerto' (graft) of a chico and a zapote. It has the shape of the zapote at about the size of the chico and the skin of neither.
When you cut it it looks like a zapote but the texture and taste is definitely a mix of both.

Posts part of the series A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.