Friday, August 14, 2009

Guatemala 1974

We meet for FHE with the senior missionaries and other "older" people who work for the church here. Last Monday, we hosted FHE. I don't remember how we got on the subject--I think our new area authority, Elder Martino, served his mission in Guatemala. Another newcomer, Neil Anderson, who is working with one of the universities here, mentioned that he served here 1975-76 also. Of course, that was the lead-in for asking whether they knew/remembered Dr/Sister Doty. Both did and remembered them well. Brother Anderson then told us that he has vivid memories of the Dotys teaching etiquette classes to the missionaries. In particular, he remembered that the missionaries were taught that they should always slice butter straight across and not at an angle (Sound familiar anyone?). He said that to this day, it bugs him when butter is sliced "incorrectly" (and that his wife if often guilty of so slicing.) He forwarded this picture to me that he remembered seeing on the wall at the area office of mom and dad/gma and gpa/grams and gramps.

It's sad to consider that our dogs live in better conditions than the majority of people in Guatemala.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dar a luz

I came home this morning to find our wonderful maid, Magdalena, making our bed. I like to watch People & Arts in the morning, and the TV was on "Sala de Maternidad"--Maternity ward. Magdalena, who is in her 50s and has never married or had kids, excitedly told me that she had never seen a baby being born. She was glued to the TV where the woman on the show was giving birth to gemelos--twins. As she walked out of the room, fanning herself, she said, "estoy sudando"--I'm sweating, but she was also smiling from ear to ear. It couldn't have been better if she was really there in the birth room.

"Dar a luz" means to give birth--literally "give a light." What a lovely way to express nature's greatest miracle.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Only in Guatemala... they have samples of mixed alcoholic drinks in the market, made on the spot by cute, young muchachas.

Friday, June 12, 2009

VIP theater in Guatemala

We tried out a new theatre this afternoon that is located in the newest mall in town, Oakland, close to the Embassy. The "regular" theatre in this complex is brand new, with stadium seating and a great sound system. The "VIP" theatre is a little more expensive--Q65, about $8 (the regular theater is only $4). It boasts paired leather recliners, a small individual table that you can move in front of you, and a small table between sections with a downlight. There is a menu from which you can choose drinks (mixed drinks, coffee drinks, smoothies, sodas), popcorn (regular, caramel, light), candy, sandwiches, crepes, and even sushi. (As much as we like sushi, we've yet to try any here in Guatemala. It just doesn't seem like a sushi kind of place on a number of levels.) There are "waiters" that take your order and bring your goodies to you. No fumbling with a large drink and popcorn as you make your way to your seat.
It was the most comfortable movie I've ever been to--feet up, reclined, munching on my mixed carmel/light popcorn, sipping my soda. But for one who has seen only the opening credits of too many movies to count as I recline at home on my bed with my feet up, it might be just a little too comfortable for me. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
I think it will be hard to go back to regular stadium seats.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Money matters

It's nearly impossible to return anything in Guatemala. I'm used to the Costco "no receipt, no question" policy, but here, if you're not sure you want/need it, don't buy it!
My first experience with this was buying a LARGE jelly roll pan at PriceSmart (our Costco) thinking I could use one pan instead of two when I make rolls, cookies, etc. The problem? It wouldn't fit in my oven. Sounds like a reasonable reason for a return to me--
However...when I attempted to take it back, the clerks acted like I was nuts to want to return a pan that was too big for my oven. It took forever to get the credit (even with the receipt.) Of course it would be too easy to check the price on the receipt and just give me back an equivalent number of quetzales.
I wanted to exchange an unopened (of course) 2 liter bottle of regular 7-up for diet at the local market. The reply: "We don't do that."
?Por que no?
On the other hand, today I took 4 pairs of pants to be hemmed. I've found a place where the seamstress does an excellent job in just a few days. It's not hard to hem pants; I've had plenty of experience doing it, and I should probably be a bit more self-sufficient. I just find that if I wait for me to do it, it never gets done.
The cost?
Q112--that's $15 for 4 pairs of pants perfectly measured and hemmed. $3.75 each. No wonder I don't do it.
I'm getting spoiled.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Central Mercado

The Central Mercado is in Zona 1~kind of a dangerous area of town, so I never go alone. The first time I went with my Egyptian friend, Yosra, it took us 2 hours to get there, even though we had directions. Now, I takes about 15 minutes and I'm going the right way on all the one-way streets!

The Mercado has 3 levels~the first is all shops that sell textiles, crafts, gawdy statues, trinkets~any kind of Guatemala souvenir you could want. You can bargain to your heart's content. We have our eyes on a gorgeous chest, carved with Guatemalan scenes. The price is Q4000, roughly $500, but the shopkeeper said she would give us "un buen precio." When we get closer to leaving Guate, we'll get serious about bargaining.

The second level is food and flowers. You can't believe the enormous stacks of fruits and veggies of all kinds (many that I don't recognize.) We've tried a few mystery fruits that were interesting~

This is the cashew fruit. You can see the pod on the end where the cashew nut grows. No wonder they are so expensive~one nut on that big fruit. I haven't tasted the fruit yet.

Not only do they sell fruits and vegetables, there are shops with prepared food (that we would never eat~like eating on the street, which is a BIG no-no) and a meat market. I must say that the smell at the meat market is pretty disgusting. No refrigeration or ice, just slabs of meat hanging and large containers of mariscos, pescado, and pollo. Interesting, however.

The 3rd level (all the levels go down) has everything you could ever want to have a party or decorate. Baskets, pottery, candles, ribbon, tacky styrofoam figures, dried flowers. We've gotten some fun pots there. I also bought 12 ceramic soup bowls, Q5 each. It is said that these bowls keep soup hot and enhance the flavor of whatever is in them. They are glazed and I got thinking about what they use 1)to make the bowls and 2) to glaze the bowls. I'm certain it's not FDA approved. But soup really does stay hot and is very tasty in these little bowls. And, no GI upsets yet.

A fun, fun place.