Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This 'salad' is a nice summer dish because it is a good  and creative use of radish. I don't know about you but, other than adding it to salads I know no other radish dish.

I am unaware of  the origin of the name Chojín, I will try to find out or maybe one of our nice readers will help us!


Vegetarian and Vegan:
spearmint  (yerba buena)

Non vegetarian:
add crumbled pork rinds


In the food processor chop the radishes, chop the spearmint, mix together with salt and the juice of lime (generously). 
I am vegetarian so I stop here. If you are not vegetarian add pork rinds, that is how the traditional dish goes.

How to eat:

Eat as a side dish or as appetizer in tortillas. I like it in a tortilla with avocado!!

Another tip for my vegan buddies is to use it to dress falafel on a whole wheat pita.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Viernes de Dolores (Good Friday) is the top procession day. All three mayor downtown processions come out at the same time plus all suburb ones as well.

The three main traditional ones are from the churches of  La Recolección, Santo Domingo and El Calvario. They all start at 3.30 and enter after midnight. This is the traditional time to "go chase processions" since you can park somewhere and literally chase them around zone 1 asking the many cucuruchos 'Por donde anda la procesión?'  (Where is the procession going?).

We started our 'procession chasing' at 1 avenue and 3rd street Zone 1, there we saw the procession of El Calvario. This particular float is the longest one in the world, with 70 men bearing on each side for a total length of 27 meters (88 feet). 

First come the 14 Stations of the Cross, each on a cart on wheels, pushe by cucuruchos wearing cone shaped hat/masks.

The image of "La Consagrada imágen del Cristo Yacente de el Calvario" is attributed to  Pedro Mendoza mid XVII century.

The size of the float never ceases to amaze me. It seems like it is a quarter of a block long!
The Virgen de la Soledad (of the solitude) comes after as I explained in a previous post, the difference between the Virgen Dolorosa and de Soledad is the position of her hands. The "Dolorosas" come with Jesus carrying the croos, the "Soledades" come with Jesus Sepultado.

When I wrote the post of Jesus Nazareno de Candelaria I thought the women's float was probably the longest one, well I stand corrected, that one had 80 bearers and this one 90!

Downtown then transforms into a safe place, not the 'never go to place' so we walked very carefree at 9.00 at night almost one kilometer east to wait for the next procession. We didn´t mean to walk that long except that we missed the procession for 15 minutes and then decided to walk further to wait for it while it turned around. That is were we went and sat and saw the process of the rug being made.

The procession of El Señor Sepultado de Santo Domingo opens with too men bringing the symbols of the passion, the rooster that cried after St. Peter had denied knowin Jesus, the nails of the cross, the sword that pucture his chest, etc.
The comes small floats on wheels representing the associations of different professions such as tailors, carpenters, welders, etc. I took the picture to the one of the tailors since my grandpa Guerra was one.

Following are the stations of the cross. In the picture the second station according to the spiritual way of the cross: Jesus is betrayed by Judas.

Accompanying the procession  are priests and  of the hundreds of devoted cucuruchos walk along, so usually part of the entertainment is saying hi to people you know that are in the lines. Such was the case this time that we said hi to Padre Hugo Quintanilla a great friend and the priest who baptized Megan.

The procession of Santo Domingo has followed the tradition of having Jesus in it glass urn and dressed in its gold emborided robe.
"La Consagrada Imagén del Señor Sepultado de Santo Domingo" also know as Christ of Love has not been attributed to any sculptor neither has its date of whittling.

Following, as it always is, The Virgen de la Soledad, on Good Friday always dressed in black the same as all the women bearing it.

We still had one more procession to see but no energy left to walk so we called my dad, who is not that much into crowds, to come pick us up and drive us to see the final one and my favorite.


Why I favorite it is somewhat trivial:  I love the robes worn by the Brotherhood (named also the crusaders), I always find the art of the floats magnificent, they have a women´s percussion band  and perhaps the main reason is that they were the first ones to have the image of Jesus out of the glass urn, which of course caused a lot of talk (not all good) and now, as you will see, they are the only ones that bring Jesus only wrapped in a white cloth. This procession just elevates my spiritual awareness.

The turns bore by the men in their white capes and the cadent back and forth on a deep, sad note played by the band elevates introspective and contemplative mood of the procession.

The "Venerada Imagén del Señor Sepultado de la Recolección" is believed to have been chiseled in the mid XVIII century.

Again, following Jesus comes Mary. The cortege is opened by the standards of the 7 sorrows of Mary, represented as daggers in her heart.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I realize it is way past Semana Santa but I still have 5 more Semana Santa Posts..

One of them is this one. Good Friday while we were out watching that day processions our cousin Jorge  mentioned there was a children's procession on Saturday so we decided we would give it a shot to see if we could still get turns for it. I inquired with one of the ladies in line of the procession if the girls were to dress in black or in white and she said black, so the next morning I went to Paiz (now owned by Walmart) to see if I could find some little black outfits. Since I could find none, resourceful as I am, I made up some outfits for her using a nightgowns one if my skirts and her blouses and drove to find the procession (this of course later became a funny story of how the girls paraded in 'pijamas') . When we got there the good news was we still got turns for Q15.00 (about $2.00) and the bad news was all the girls were in white!

Here are the pictures of the procession, Nicole and Megan are easily recognized being the only ones in black :).

We 'caught' the procession 9 blocks before the turn we  bought so we walked along with it for about an hour. Since it is all little girls, the women in charge have them walk holding hands.

The picture below is taken walking in front of the Cathedral. It is very exciting because the bells are rung when the procession goes by.

After nine walks of walking under the sun I thought they were going to totally hate their first experience, but fortunately they informed me they loved it!

I posted the next picture because my dad is on the right corner.
The door you see in the background is the entrance to the Presidential House. Because it has proven to be less secure than staying in  your own house Presidents have stopped using it.
The procession is from La Recolección and both and the men from the brotherhood of El Señor Sepultado and the women from the Sisterhood of La Santisima Virgen de Dolores y Soledad organize and direct this procession.  There are 4 floats and 2 bands

Jesus Sepultado with approximately 20 bearers on each side. 
La Virgen de Soledad with 15 bearers on each side.

Maria Magdalena and San Juan with only 5 bearers on each side

The Band follow Jesus and Mary. This procession looks less neat on the line because all the parents are hovering our around their children.
I have to add this was a wonderful experience for all of us. It was a blessing to share this cultural and religious tradition with the girls. It was  the highlight of Semana Santa.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Xelajú (under ten mountains) or it short Xela are other names given to the city of Quetzaltenango. 

The song Luna de Xelajú is considered by many Guatemalans, from Xela or not, as the second national anthem. The waltz composed by Paco Perez in 1944 is often played in patriotic events, parties and concerts. 

In 1997ish we were at Placido Domingo's concert and the stadium bursted when he  sang this song, the same is constantly done by many artists national and international who know they can pull the crowd in when they sing Luna de Xelajú. 

Luna de Xelajú can now be found in all rhythms and genres. Below a very traditional one (all pictres in the slide show are from Xela). To see the lyrics in English and Spanish click here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

TECUN UMAN - Quetzaltenango -

Tecún-Umán, el de las torres verdes, 
el de las altas torres verdes, verdes, 
el de las torres verdes, verdes, verdes... 

Tecún-Umán, el de las plumas verdes, 
el de las largas plumas verdes, verdes,
el de las plumas verdes, verdes, verdes...

Tecún-Umán, the one of the green towers,
the one of the tall green, green, towers
the one of the green, green, green, towers...

Tecún-Umán, the one of the green feathers,
The one of the long green, green, feathers
the one of the green, green, green, feathers....

An excerpt from Tecún Umán, written by Miguel Angel Asturias, along with Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan Nobel Price Winner.

I have written about the legend of Tecún Umán and the quetzal previously but didn't have these pictures.  On Holy Monday we drove to Quetzaltenango, that is a 3.5 hour drive, to give a ride to our friend Flora who in exchange offered us a wonderful lunch with her family (more on that in another post).

In Quetzaltenango we stopped to take a  picture of the Tecún Umán monument recently relocated to a new boulevard. I felt like a complete tourist when I got back on the car and Flora said , 'you can also take a picture of Tecun Umán's rock, it is just down the street from my house right in front of the school and if you want we can even go to the cave of Tecún Umán which is about a 45 minute walk up the mountain'.

Flora was born and raised in Chuicavioc a small town on the skirts of Volcán Santa María (the 4th tallest in Guatemala). As explained by Flora, this rock  has been identified by the local people from generation after generation as the rock were Tecun Umán fought and the cave (which I'll visit another day) where he lived and where apparently you can see his footprints. As much as it sounds like a tourist trap you have to give some credit to it, because it is mostly cherished by the Mayan community and there is nobody trying to make money out of it. 

When we got to Chuicavioc, a 35 minute drive from the city of Quetzaltenango in a bumpy dirt road, we found the rock identified with a plaque. The rock is sadly painted with political campaign colors. In the country side it is common practice for political parties to paint rocks with their campaign message and they didn't stop even at Tecún Umán's rock. 

The plaque reads "Central American call to the four winds that here I defended your land and your home TECUN UMAN".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We catholics believe by faith in the  the transformation of the bread into the body of Christ and the wine into the blood of Christ and it transformations staying. Maundy Thursday after evening mass the Eucharist is taken out of the altar shrine symbolizing that Jesus can not be found there because the passion starts and during that night it is put in  a special altar built for the adoration of the people. This symbolizing us praying with him as the apostles did in the Garden of Getsemani.

Why seven? Seven in always a symbolic number in the Church and in The Bible, the visitation of seven churches could be related to the seven main churches in Rome.

It can be any seven. Some weeks we have done all in the Historic downtown, other times we have done 7 churches close to home, other times we have driven to Antigua. This year we only did 4 (3 downtown and 1 near home) the girls were too tires after a friends and family traditional lunch -Bacalao a la Viscaina, arroz, tamalitos, curtido, empanadas-  we had that day.

9.31 PM Church of La Recolección

10.08 Iglesia de San Sebastián

In the Main Nave the Altar Shrine is empty. On Maundy Thursday Altars are almost always built on a secondary nave or chapel as is the case here. 

 10.31 PM. Iglesia de Santa Catarina

You can see in this church the follow the tradition of covering the saints and any image non related to The Passion.

11.14 Santuario Maria Auxiliadora (near my parents house)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This is the second time I carry in this procession, last time was about 13 years ago! Some friends of my parents gave me the turn and asked me to do it for them. The turn was an Honor Commission. The first turns, the last turns and some others like in front of the Cathedral are honor turns. Their family has had this turn for years and have priority to buy them when the turns come out on sale. The friend I carried it for has just won a battle against cancer.

This procession takes place on Maundy Thursday the day we commemorate as the establishment of the Eucharist, since it was the day of The Last Supper. 

My turn was a block along the foothills of El Cerrito del Carmen (I will write about it in a couple of days).

All women bearers are dressed in white and men either on dark suits or with the Cucurucho outfit with white trim of top.

Here we are, my mom the girls an I and my dad behind the Camera. They got a spot on the shade along the fences of the Cerrito del Carmen. Again my turn was the left side so this Semana Santa we never got to be on the side of Jesus's semblance.

I been wanting to get this shot below for all the previous procession and my dad did it beautiful. You can see all men that are about to bear, kneeling with devotion and making a prayer before their turn.
This year all procession had the same theme (not always has it been that way). The them was based on the scripture 

John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. and him being the Eternal Priest.

They had the crumbled temple in the front and the reconstructed temple in the back.

The image is attributed to Fray Juan de Aguirre towards the end of the 16th century.

The Virgin Mary comes next. This is a longer float that the other one I carried at and it was a lot less heavy. The float has 40 arms on each side for a total of 80 bearers per turn.

Now looking at the pictures I think somebody missed a spot towards the front and pushed everyone to the back where we were body against body. You can see me towards the back with the longer skirt.

The procession leaves the Church at 6.45 am and returns 15 minutes after midnight. The pictures were taken at around 8.30 am.