Capital City Guatemalans all wrapped up (Photo: Prensa Libre)
Weather these days: It is SO DAMN COLD! (And I love it!)
Guess what! I was the featured "Expat of the Month". So if you want to read the interview and know a bit more about yours truly, check it out by clicking here. Please feel free to leave a note, if you are so inclined.
So, what's new? The sudden sharp cold is what.
Buildings in Guatemala don't really have centralized AC or heat, unless they are recently built. The weather doesn't tend to extremes, being temperate and in the 70s (F) most of the year. Hence, people use fans or heaters, or else, open windows in order to control the climate inside. Of course, that means that one's stuff is always covered with a fine layer of sandy dirt, no matter how much you dust every single day.
Highlands villagers playing with snow (can't find photo credit)
The highlands are cold and dry, and enjoy (suffer?) a bit of snow, enough, it seems, to make a lopsided snowman. We're planning a trip to the highlands in December, so maybe we'll see snow.
I like the cold so much I keep all of my windows open--and I live on a 10th floor! My nose is always cold. So I wear chunky socks, layer soft knits one over the other, add a scarf if necessary, and spend the day enjoying the chill wind that blows in smelling of fresh pine and eucalyptus, and even some burning wood. Lots of hot lattes and mocha get consumed.
November Skies in Guatemala (can't find photo credit)
This is my favorite season of the year in Guatemala not only because of the cold, but because of the amazing sunset views every single day.
Downsides? Because people are shopping and school/college kids are on vacation and outside, the traffic is a bear and pickpockets and petty thieves are running rampant.
The time of year when one is most tempted to walk outside because of the lovely weather is when one should be most prudent. Don't carry all your money in your wallet. Rather, distribute it through your pockets. And don't do stuff like pull out your Blackberry or iPhone to talk as you drive or walk. Not the smartest thing to do in general, and much less these days.
It is a great time to go check out Sophos, one of my favorite bookstores here. Sophos ROCKS, you all. Seriously. It is definitely worth a visit. The owners are French--or maybe Belgian--and not only import a wide variety of books from Europe and other Latin American countries, but also have current US paperbacks. That is where I found all of the series of A Song of Ice and Fire (the base for the famous "Game of Thrones" cable series) at only US$6 each. Aaand... Sophos is always warm when the weather is cold.
In general, though, books at Sophos are pricey. If you want better deals, you are much better off at the used books bookshops in downtown Guatemala. I will blog more about that soon. But going to the readings and presentations at Sophos is free, and the café is not only not expensive, but a good place to read (for free) local papers and other publications. Also, their hot chocolate with chile or cardamom is to die for.
Sophos is located in Plaza Fontabella in Zona 10 (in the trendy "Zona Viva" area). An Italian-ish shopping center that features mostly restaurants, pubs and cafes (Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Italian cuisine, among others), there is always something going on during this time at their open plaza. From "Farmers Market" days on weekends to a Christmas gifts bazaar, puppet shows, jazz concerts, a bagpipe player, and you know, just ... stuff.
It's nice for a walk and sit around having a coffee, an ice-cream, people-watching.
Try the gelato store on the first floor. All of their colors are silky and totally hyperreal, the flavors are delicious, but the sugarfree strawberry gelato is AMAZING. I walk there to have it even when the weather is cold, it's really that good.
If you prefer to do outdoor stuff during this season--it may be cold, but it is sunny and clear--you can do as the locals do and go to an open site (the countryside, a park) and fly a kite. It is traditional to fly kites during this season.
Child flying kite in winter, Guatemala.
The kites are handmade, somewhat fragile, and not very user-friendly, though. The thing about them is that they are beautiful, and would look wonderful framed or encased in glass plates. I once bought a bunch of them and used them to decorate the premises for a children's birthday party, many years ago. It was one of my most successful ideas. All the kids wanted them. They ended up taking them home.
Mayan woman selling traditional kites. Photo: Prensa Libre.
Anyhow, always something to do around here.
Well, that is about it. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We usually celebrate it with other expats but this year I guess we've behaved like hermits. Restaurants and hotels around here always offer a Thanksgiving dinner, but we've never gone. More importantly to us, it is Hannukah and I wish I were in the US with the family, but it is not to be.
For now, however, I am quite content to be here. Lots of writing assignments, but I can work from home and in my own time. It will get more hectic when classes start again. So life is good around here these days, flowing on in its tranquil way. I leave you now with another great afternoon view of Guatemala City. Enjoy!