Monday, September 28, 2009


This saying is a funny one, I think. It means that sooner or later you end up spilling the beans yourself. If you did or didn't do something sooner or later even if you want to hide it sooner or later you will let it show.

The fish dies by its own mouth.

The picture was taken at the Denver Aquarium in January 2007

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The previous post was about Museo Miraflores in which I make reference to the city of Kaminaljuyu. This city even though it was one of the most important pre-Columbian mayan cities in the Guatemalan Highland it is one the least visited, least talked about, least restored, worst preserved and probably most looted. Below the story:

"The valley where today the city of Guatemala is settled was know in the time of the colony as the valley of 'Ermita', 'de la Virgen', 'de las Vacas' and 'de La Culebra'. The first two names refer to a small chapel on a hill called Cerrito del Carmen and the image venerated there. The name 'Las Vacas' takes its name from the valley where cows used to graze upon, and 'de la Culebra' comes from the pre-Columbian mound on the south end of the city (Zone 10, 14 and 13) that came from Santa Catarina Pinula and extended to El Trebol (where the aqueduct was built in the colonial times and the ruins are still seen).

This mound was build by the inhabitants of the biggest an most important pre-Columbian city of the Guatemalan Highlands, called Kaminaljuyu. The city occupied what is now Zone 7 and 11 of the modern Guatemala city. In the times of the 'Colonia' the 'Camino Real' that came from Santiago de Guatemala (La Antigua) went through the abandoned city of Kaminaljuyu, to make its way to the Cerrito del Carmen towards Lake Izabal. The chronicler Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán reported in the XVII century the existence of mounds and idols laying on the side of the road, but nobody payed much attention to it.

During the beginning of the 20th Century the site underwent some excavations that evidenced the extension and relevance of the site but there was no interest in the conservations; on the contrary, urban development projects and commercial buildings devastated de area and most of the artifacts and structures. Few mounds randomly survived standing among houses and roads, such is the case of the Kaminaljuyu park in Zone 7 and the Paseo Miraflores Zone 11.

The highlands of Guatemala, besides offering the beautiful scenery, was the most developed region for the old maya people. Kaminaljuyu was the most successful and prosperous city of the central valley, being built with abundant water and fertile land. The resources were well used since the beginning of its establishment around the year 1200BC, by the people who spoke Chol, one the the mayan languages. During the 2000 years of occupancy it was a center of commercial and urbanist relevance for all the highland and the region on the Pacific. It was visited by caravans of merchants who brought precious articles as well as staples from faraway lands.

The people that spoke K'iche conquered Kaminaljuyu at the end of the first century of our era and the old 'choles' were displaced. Between the years 600-900 ac many building were built around plazas, the ball game was practiced and beautiful pottery was crafted. Commercial liasons were productive among the people of Peten, Alta Verapaz and the region on the Motagua river. The city was abandoned near the year 900ac and it is believed that the people founded the city of Chinautla.

The city suffered the same process of political and cultural degradation observed in other Maya sites which then lead to abandonment.

The development of Kaminaljuyu was favored by it strategic location on the the lake Miraflores on the central part of the city. The lake had a length 1.5 km and .5km width. It was the main source of water and provided food resources as fish, birds, snails and algae.

The first works of hydraulic engineer in all the Maya area were done in this city by means of wide canals that took water from the lake to the fields to irrigate the crops. The canals that were discovered next to the the Miraflores museum are 4 to 18 meters wide and are know as Canal Miraflores, Canal San Jorge and Canal Mirador.

Canal Miraflores is the oldest one and was built circa 600bc. It worked utilizing the multilevel topography having gravity move the water and the width of the canal control speed.

During the following centuries the technology got better, the San Jorge Canal, had hydraulic jumps to increase speed. Later the construction of the Mirador Canal included wooden doors to control the flow to the crop fields.

By the year 200 BC water became scarce and was insufficient for the use of the canal. It is believed it could have been a consequence of poor use of the resource.

The first houses were built around the lake Miraflores and were unsophisticated constructions made out of clay and wood. With the passage of time high pyramidal construction were built and decorated with multiple colors: green, yellow, red, gray, black other colors, red being the most predominant.

The bigger structures, including temples, were built circa the year 700bc. Religious and political building surrounded ample plazas were people congregated for social, religious and commercial purposes. Fourteen ball game courts have been reported.

The sculpted monuments date all the way to the year 700 bc, when the Stele 9 was carved. The stele 9 shows a character talking and singing with the eye to the sky. The majority of the steles and altars where carved in 'basalto' stone and have images of the leaders and the dates when they were carved.

En the Late pre classic period power was held by a supreme leader, he commissioned sculptures an reliefs that represented the glories and triumphs over other nations. He held enough authority to order majestic works and to lead an army that conquered lands and other mayan nations."

Taken from the Museo Miraflores


MUSEO MIRAFLORES is located in Gautemala city Zone 11 walking distance from where I grew up. Thirty years ago there was nothing in that are except various mounds that were the inspiration to many childhood stories when we used to fly kites around that area. Today the only piece of land without construction are the 5 mounds, around them a Mc Donald's, a Hyatt, a huge Mall, Blockbuster, Pricesmart, etc. The mounds are associated to burial pits.

Always fascinated by the mayans and knowing that where we lived once there was the hustle and bustle of a Mayan city many times as a child I went onto digging expedition in my backyard hoping to find an artifact (some people actually did when they build an addition to their house).

In 2002 the Museo Miraflores opened with a small exhibit and an interesting double floor in the main lobby that contrast what the area was like 2500 years ago, when the Kaminaljuyu city spread all the way to this area, with a walk glass top showing the street an avenues of today.

The museum recently opened a new entrance connected to the Miraflores mall, this are showcases exotic animal an a tunnel to a tomb underneath one of the mounds. The exhibit area has a collection of artifact from Kamilajuyu and temporary exhibits of modern Guatemalan artists.

The museum is a small oasis of green in the congested commercial area of Miraflores. My kids particullarly enjoy running up and rolling down the mounds.

During our last visit we also enjoyed an exotic animal show. In the picture Nicole with a real tarantula on her head.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I like this saying from one point of view and somewhat agree from the other point of view. The literal translation is the robe does not make the monk:

1. Even if you dress up and physically appear as an academic, etc that does not make you one. I like this one.

2.It is not the outer perception that makes you who you are. While it is extremely true I still think for practical social reasons it is good to try to match it up. Ex, I tell my soon not to go asking for a job in a hoodie and jeans, to try to match up his upbringing and his educational background at least for a job interview (maybe that is too old fashion, not post-modernistic at all)

The picture of my mom and Robin Hood's friar was taken in Main Street US, Magic Kindom, Orlando, Florida in 2003.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


This display is on the third floor of the Denver Museum of National History. The case brings the view of Lake Atitlan but of course there is zero justice done. I applaud the effort and the educational aspect of it though.

The plaque reads: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala: Each day in this cloud forest, warm rain nourishes lush tropical plants, providing habitat for many exotic birds and other wildlife. The Guatemalan government recently established a nature reserve here to save part of the habitat from human encroachment and exploitation. When I looked up the word encroachment I had to laugh becuase that is what the government is doing so who saves us from the government?
Below a pictue of the real deal:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The expression La Cabra Siempre Tira al Monte is a fatalist expression that I particularly refuse to accept as true but also constantly get proven wrong. The expression implies that no matter what you do if the person is destined to a life style or has certain ways he or she will always go back to them. The literal translation is the goat always heads out to the prairie.

The picture was taken at the Deanna Rose Farmstead in OP Kansas on the summer of 2003, 5 months later we moved to KS.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Libertad 15 de Septiembre

The coat of arms of the Republic of Guatemala was established by a decree passed by Congress on the 18th of November 1871 (one hundred years before I was born) under the administration of General Miguel García Granados (the one in the 10 quetzales bill).

The coat of arms has a scroll in the center with the date of the independence from spain: September 15th 1821, two crossed rifles (Remington rifles) symbolizing the disposition to take arms if freedom needs to be defended, two crossed sabers symbolizing honor, a crown laurel foliage symbolizing victory and the love for peace over war.

The color of the flag, which has been cause of crontroversy is SKY BLUE (not blue like the color in other Central American flags). The middle panel is white and the coat of arms is always on it. On the scroll the quetzal that, according to the legend, takes us back to the freedom lost when the Spanish came but also is a gentle reminder of our current freedom as we sing and refer to the quetzal in the last verses of the National Anthem.


On the 14th of September people from nearby and far away towns come to Guatemala City to light the torch of Freedom at Obelisco to then take it back to their home towns.

More pictures of this patriotic celebration at my blogger's friend Carpe Diem.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Recently we went to San Gregorio Spa, this quaint place is not far from the city (about 30 kms), going towards El Salvador on km 25 you turn left for about another 5 kms. It has an outstanding view of the Lago de Amatitlán and the Volcan the Agua.

We went to have breakfast there (they open for breakfast Thursday - Sunday), but the real treat is staying there for a Spa experience.

These type of retreats are a new way Guatemala is promoting itself to the world. The Wellness and Medical Tourism is growing in Guatemala and attracting people that want to visit the country but also have the opportunity to be pampered and experience, at affordable prices, the benefits of Spa therapies such as: anti stress therapy where organic, herbalist, and natural medicines are used, implementing also the use of not conventional therapies as: sulfured thermal water, sulfured mud, fragrance therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, natural herbs music therapy, among others.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Driving from Guatemala city to Mazatenango, Retalhulehu, or to Mexico you go by the intersection that takes you to the town of Cocales. I have never actually turned into the town but the intersection is a well know landmark. There, buses and cars stop to pick people up and/or get a coco on the side of the road. You can get the pierced coconut with a straw, a peeled coconut to not only drink the water but also eat the meat, and you can also buy small coconut palm trees.
I find it pretty picturesque that the names of the town depicts so well the commercial activity, coco meaning coconut and cocales implying coconut palm tree.

Cocales google map