Monday, November 25, 2013


Nocturnal view from our balcony (yes, those are fireworks in the distance)

The weather these days: Strange but lovely. Cloudy, windy, misty, with very scattered drizzles.

Reading right now: Günter Grass's The Box and Jeanette Winterson's The Passion.

This blog post is about Guate in the international news and of course, it starts with MY news. Life is all about me, y'all.

We seem to have found an adequate apartment!!!  It does not have the views that this one has, but the space and noise situation is much better. We will still get to enjoy the panoramic view from the balcony of the daily fireworks around the city during November and December, since we will be moving towards the end of next month.

Kitchen detail with my home-made preserves (I can get so disgustingly "Martha Stewart" sometimes)

In order to squeeze as much use from the balcony as possible (our friends just LOVE that balcony), we threw a dinner party last week:. The first of many ('Tis the season and all that, you know). Sitting at the dining room or living room, one still has an awesome view of the city.

 Some of our friends enjoying the balcony (no, I swear I had not served space brownies)

 Jambalaya, artichoke salad, home-baked cornbread and fig pie were served. The idea was to end with pecan pie, since I was going all "southern" with the menu (I'm from NOLA), but the pecan pie was not to be found. And I may bake bread, but I am not going to go all out baking a pecan pie.

You can buy pecan pies here at the Ciro's bakery chain, but they are more like "dulce de leche" pecan pie than molasses pecan pie. In other words, not the real thang.

Also, the jambalaya was not quite like real jambalaya, since one cannot find all the original ingredients in Guatemala, so lets just say that it was more of a jambalaya-like dish than the real thing. (Jambalayish?) One of the things of being an expat, you know, is all this "making do" with what is available locally.

 My artichoke salad

The artichoke salad, if I may say so myself, was very colorful and tasty.  As mentioned before, I also made the cornbread and baked a pretty decent sourdough bread that was still warm from the oven when it was served with the main meals.  The mixes came from boxes I shipped from the US, I must confess.

Lots of wine was consumed, as usual.   That did not come from a box. We are lucky that our friends are wine connoisseurs and they were in charge of bringing the wine.  I know nothing of wines, so if you leave it up to me, it will most probably come from a box, too.

Another view from our balcony: The smoking volcanoes at sunset

Anyway, talking about food.

Last time I blogged about making mixtas.  Just as a follow up, I share with you a recent blog post by Expat Mom, recommending La Casa de las Mixtas in Antigua (I plan to go try them).  To read her post, click here.

My workspace on the balcony 

Guatemala in the news:

The Ríos Montt case drags on, which has more pro than cons.  The cons are that by the time trial takes place again, he may be dead (he is close to 90).  On the other hand, it may take a long time and go slow, but you know the saying, the wheels of justice may grind slow ... Anyhow, if you are interested in reading something recent about it, I share with you the article titled "Glimmers of Hope in Guatemala" by Stephen Kinzer. To read, click here.

Condé Nast Traveler Magazine's Top Five cities in Central and South America lists Antigua, Guatemala.  To read click here.

Guatemala often ends up in the top 10 most dangerous cities of the world, although not always (these lists seem highly subjective and depend upon what variables or indexes the person writing the list is using). Nevertheless, it is good to read some of these lists if only for general information.

Business Insider lists the 50 most dangerous cities in the world, with the top 20 being in Latin America (no Middle East cities?) and several big Central American cities, including San Pedro Sula in Honduras and the capital cities of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Panama. Two US cities are among the top 20, I believe.  To read, click here.

Among the ten most dangerous cities worldide is Guatemala City, according to some blog titled Escape Here.  To read, click here.

Just so you can see how subjective and, pardon my French, bullshitty these lists can be, a list published in News 2 (an Indian broadcast) lists among the top 10 most dangerous cities several in Africa and the Middle East, and no Guatemala City or any other Central American city listed there. To see, click here.

Our bookcase wall in the living room

So that's about it for now.   I have to write several articles in December and prepare two graduate-level seminars plus move the household, so it is going to get pretty interesting. Especially with all my plants and books (see pic above).

I am already giving away a lot of stuff, including my recent New Yorker, Harper's, Rolling Stone and The Atlantic Monthly magazines, as well as dozens of books, and it just doesn't seem to make a dent...

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