¡Poco a Poco!

Whenever you find yourself packing for a trip or planning an international move, things may get stressful. It seems that the closer we get to our relaxation destination, the more we invite last-minute stress and fast-paced experiences. Then, you arrive in Guatemala! You may find that your stress starts experiencing “culture shock.” We smile as we are writing this, remembering […]

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Runners On Your Mark

Marathon fever comes to the shores of Atitlán What would make people want to run barefoot uphill for eight kilometers? The answer: a 1958 foot race departing Panajachel for nearby San Andrés Semetabaj. Scores of participants could not afford shoes, but they would not let this keep them out of the race. The excitement of that event was such that […]

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Marathon fever comes to the shores of Atitlán

Lago de Atitlán Maratón, Panajachel 2012

What would make people want to run barefoot uphill for eight kilometers? The answer: a 1958 foot race departing Panajachel for nearby San Andrés Semetabaj. Scores of participants could not afford shoes, but they would not let this keep them out of the race. The excitement of that event was such that only a year later it went national, and […]

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Fun at the Fair

Deer dancer provide a cultural experience. (photo: Harris & Goller - viaventure.com)

Panajachel to host patron saint festivities in October St. Francis of Assisi was, among other things, the patron of animals and the environment. So it is fitting that fair week in the city named for him, San Francisco Panajachel, will include a ceremony to bless the animals. The environment will also be a theme, with many organizations involved in the […]

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Creepy Carp Haunt the Lake

Creepy Carp Haunt the Lake

As if the ingress of bully bass to Lake Atitlán were not bad enough (see Revue August 2011, Lake Views, page 88), another alien may be even more harmful. At least since 2002, carp of the genus Cyprinus have been appearing in fishermen’s trawling nets. No one knows when they got there, nor what to do about them. “They have […]

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Bad-Ass Bass Rain from the Sky

Karla S. is among the many anglers who frequent the Panajachel piers for bass. (photo: Brennan Harmuth)

53 years ago, an airplane wrought sudden, significant alterations in Lake Atitlán’s food chain Flying fish inhabit oceans, not lakes. Well, except for one sunny day in 1958. If you were looking at Lake Atitlán then, you would have seen big fish on the fly. They arrived in tubs welded into what was, judging from eyewitness accounts, a Sikorsky seaplane, […]

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Time Is Short and the Water May Rise

Can Panajachel gird up in time for the next flooding? From space, Panajachel resembles a fan on a long, broken rod. This fan abuts Central America’s deepest waters—Lake Atitlán. It looks as though the city, in mortal fear of the lake, wants to escape up the skinny gorge that forms the broken rod. In fact, the lake is the most […]

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Winged Wonders on “Solid Stance” Street

One day last August, I drove down Avenida Hincapié in Guatemala City with my sons Ike (almost 12 by then) and JayJay (8). This odd street—you may know it—begins as soon as you pass under an aqueduct arch that seems to date from the reign of Marcus Aurelius. It is one of the few structures in town surviving from the […]

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Lake Atitlán: Up Close and Cozy

I did not pick the name “Lake Views” for this column, but it stuck nonetheless. So I should probably make the lake my topic at least once. There is no counting the number of times—it is too many—that I have read that Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) called Atitlán the world’s most beautiful lake. He would know, being one of the best-traveled […]

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“Mad Dog Writer” seeks that one special person. Is it you?

Sorry girls, but this is not a thousand-word personal ad dressed up as a column. That is bad news for all you babes who cannot resist hairless middle-aged nerds with mismatched socks and a history of unmedicated bipolarity. Instead, I am seeking one special person, not for romantic companionship but to satisfy my curiosity. This individual is not marked by […]

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How I Got Gelded and Respected

We all recall that Rodney Dangerfield’s one-liner, “I get no respect,” became his middle name. His fans (including me) suspected that before turning pro, Rodney worked countless, tedious day jobs. But there was (and still is) something that any man can do to summon for himself beaucoup respect, one that will knock him on his back— somewhat literally. I refer […]

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The Objective Virtues of Guatemalan Coffee

One criticism of columnists is that too often, we cover old ground. When we run out of real ideas, we attempt to build bridges to Readerland on rainy, or writer’s-blocked, days with off-the-shelf topics. I have read more than one column about coffee, for instance. Everyone has experience with coffee, so it is as safe a topic as you can […]

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Charlie Brown in Santiago Atitlán

Or, How the Peanuts gang finds relief from the big northern syndicate this Christmas When I was a child, the holiday season’s shortest half-hour passed during the broadcast of Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. That, and the other seasonal Peanuts specials, were always over too quickly. These cartoons enraptured everyone—even grownups who otherwise despised cartoons, like those vapid Flintstones. I might […]

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The Guatemalan Hospitality Bug Bites All

In Guatemala, it is easier to “just drop in” on your friends than it would be in Minneapolis or Melbourne. One reason, I think (write me if you disagree) is that until the end of the previous century telephone calls were something you rarely tried at home. That was when Italy’s telecommunications monopoly brought Gua-temala’s system into the 20th and […]

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Why October 12 is Not “Colón Day”

I do not know how many of you in Readerland wonder why we say “Christopher Columbus” instead of Cristóbal Colón. But this time the wonderment comes from within this magazine. Our copy editor, Matt Bokor, has decided to flatter me by thinking I might be able to run with this question. OK, Matt — here goes. Maybe, among the group […]

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Guatemala’s National Dish Revealed!

Twenty months after her first and, to date, sole visit to Guatemala, my niece Holly Myrick remains stricken by Guatemala. In March she did her seventh-grade country report, and she could have chosen any of Earth’s 197 sovereignties. Reader, you guessed it—she didn’t choose Djibouti. It helped to have a Guatemala expert (so reputed) in the family. Had I the […]

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In Pursuit of Goatsuckers

Speculation on the elusive and mischievous Chupacabra Goatsuckers are not something you see every day. In fact, they are not something that most of us will ever see on any day. Nevertheless, so many Central Americans believe in their existence that, for their sakes, we need to give a fair hearing to the possibility. Whether goatsuckers exist or not, they […]

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My 101 First Cousins-in-law

Marrying into a large family brings unannounced house guests and some new vocabulary. Since my Guatemalan wife had 10 siblings, I have enough in-laws to populate a middle-sized Dallas suburb. I am forever meeting “new” members of the González-Boch clan for the first time. And I was not that good at recalling names even before ADD and premature senility made […]

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3Q and the Tomato Paste War

Dealing with Lilliputian cans of sauce and questionable quantification quirkiness on our retail shelves Tomato paste is mentioned in Guatemala’s Constitution. I have yet to find the paragraph, section, and clause, but I’m certain it is there. The law in question requires all cans of tomato paste sold here to be the 6-ounce variety. You may occasionally find tomato paste […]

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The Heartbreak of HDD

Some simple steps to avoid the dangers that Hemispherical Discognizant Disorder can cause. If you are a foreigner in Central America, some people in the home country think that you spend Christmas in sweltering heat and humidity. “Oh, yeah,” they say. “Down there, the seasons are reversed and all that.” The charitable response, the one I usually give, is to […]

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Festival Atitlán

Ranferí Aguilar and Hacedor de Lluvia (Rain Maker)

March is coming, time for Festival Atitlán. On March 14, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Santiago Atitlán will once again host this annual alternative cultural event featuring live music and arts. Since 2001, there have been six festivals, each one more interesting than the last. Proceeds from the past four festivals have been donated to help rebuild Hospitalito Atitlán, which was destroyed by mudslides from Hurricane Stan in 2005.

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Valentine Chocolates and Exotic Soups

Forrest Gump’s life may have been a box of chocolates. My box has included snails—and worse. On February 12, 1993, I returned to Guatemala after three months Stateside, for what Latin Americans call el pedido, “the asking.” The thing I was going to ask for was the hand of my fiancee, Mely González, from her parents. I thought doing so […]

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Can ET Call Home From Guatemala?

In August I wondered, on the 20th anniversary of my arrival in Guatemala: What one thing (aside from my hairline) would be wholly unrecognizable to a time traveler from the year 1988? The answer must be: telecommunications. Back then, E.T. would never have tried calling home from here. But since I was only calling the United States, instead of the […]

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Birthday Parties

Birthday cake face (photo: Dwight Wayne Coop)

My sons are still in their cavity-prone years, so I attended 19 birthday parties last year—three for my boys and 16 for their playmates. Each had its odd turn or twist. To avoid the charge of ethnocentrism, I’ll admit here that Central Americans do no worse a job of honoring their birthday boys and girls than do parents in the […]

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