A Mother’s Day greeting from the Racoons May 11, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Guatemala , add a comment
Mother’s Day is celebrated here in Guatemala on the 10th of May, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. So today was the big day – and I do mean big.
It began at 6:30 am with a mobile loudspeaker blasting an upbeat blessing from the streets, mañanitas-style. That was followed by fireworks, and all day I continued to receive kisses and hugs and very sincere blessings just for the fact that I have a beautiful daughter – which is already blessing enough.
Hotel Ajau: A green deal in Guatemala City May 11, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Guatemala, Sustainability , add a comment
GUATEMALA CITY – I have spent the past week making contacts, getting the lay of the land and working on freelance stories, and I couldn’t have found a better home-away-from-home here in the capital city than Hotel Ajau.
I’ll admit I chose it because I read in Rough Guides that it offered a good price, free wireless, good coffee and a nice atmosphere in the historic district. Little did I know that I had inadvertently chosen the city’s first “green” hotel – at least the first to be certified as such by Guatemala’s Green Deal organization.
Nor did I know it was the labor of love of three generations of French-Guatemalans. Three generations of the Luis Rey Tarot family have infused this elegant historic neo-colonial building (or republican, as it’s called here) with a sense of home.
GUATEMALA CITY – Between the black smoke-belching chicken buses and the mass of cars that congest the streets of Central America’s largest capital, it’s hard to imagine a bicycle, much less a mass of them. With one of the highest crime rates in Latin America, it’s not a place I was planning to explore on two wheels.
But there’s safety in numbers, and that’s the idea behind Critical Mass, a bicycling movement launched in 1992 in San Francisco that has now spread to more than 300 countries.
“We don’t block traffic; we are traffic!” is the group’s motto, and as an urban bicyclist confronted with rude, honking or just heedless motorists I’ve enjoyed expressing that sentiment, alone and in mass rides in San Antonio (MS 150), Houston, Texas (Bohemeo’s Bicycle Club) and Guadalajara, Mexico (Al Teatro en Bici and GDL en Bici).
So when I saw on Twitter that Masa Critica Guatemala was planning a ride my first weekend here, I decided to drop them a line to see if they might have a bike to spare.
A day of cultura in Guatemala City May 2, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Guatemala , 2comments
GUATEMALA CITY – My first day in the city, my couchsurfing host Cristina whisked me off to a day of culture, beginning with the beautiful Popol Vuh and Ixchel museums on the beautiful and modern Francisco Marroquin University and ending with a night of dance at the National Theater and lively conversation in an all-night diner.
I have assignments due and I had planned to stay home and write, saving the museums for Saturday, but Cristina set me straight. These museums, two of the best according to Cristina, are closed on Saturday. And when she offered to accompany me, how could I resist?
Surfing the couches in Guatemala City May 1, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Consumer travel, Guatemala , 1 comment so far
GUATEMALA CITY – The city sparkled below me like a carpet of diamonds, flung carelessly over the valley and clinging to the surrounding mountains. This is probably as beautiful as Guatemala’s capital city gets, I thought, then scolded myself for the unwelcome thought. I only know the city from reading about it, and from a single pass through to the airport. Hardly enough to judge. I should know by now that you can’t judge a city by the media coverage – look at Mexico City, for example, which I’ve come to love.
And indeed my first night in the Guatemala City has put the lie to the widespread condemnation of Central America’s largest megalopolis. Thanks to Couchsurfing.com, I had friends waiting for me with dinner and directions, maps and guides and ideas for my project. I took a taxi to their beautiful home next to a park in a leafy neighborhood in Zona 2 and received a family welcome.