Wednesday, June 20, 2007

visit to Guatemala 17-19 June 2007

This was my first ever visit. I fell in love with Guatemalan city at the first sight( friends say ..i am prone to such accidents!). It is clean, green, modern and stylish. Great cafes, restaurants, good hotels.

I sat in a cafe ( no piernas here ! ) next to the Hotel Camino Real where I stayed. Inspiring ambience! It was cafe con books. but not like barnes and nobles and starbucks combine. The cafe was like a garden with lot of greenery and flowers. The cafe was strong and delicious. The locals say cafe should be hot, strong and love.
Guatemala is one of the largest coffee exporters and is the top supplier to Starbucks. The best cafe brand is Antigua.

The cafe reminded me of the Guatemalan writer Miguel Angel Asturias, the nobel prize winner. I liked his book " Mr President'. I have not yet completed his other novel The Mulata. Asturias brings alive the misery of military dictatorship and the racial divide.

Guatemala has also produced another nobel prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu the leader of native Indians. She is standing for Presidential elections in Nov 2007 but her chances do not seem to be bright.

The Guatemalans are known as Guatemaltecos or Chappins. friendly and warm souls. The only problem is that they are punctual and take work seriously ! .. insufficently latino ! But the Chappins are spicy...thanks to the variety of spices they grow. They are the world's largest exporter of cardamom.

Guatemala has recovered from the trauma of the civil war of forty years which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. While the ex-guerillas have joined politics, the Indians, who form more than half the pop
ulation still live in marginal conditions.

Unfortunately I did not have time to visit the Mayan ruins in Tikal or the colonial city Antigua.

There are quite a few from India and I met some of them. Mr Guha has been there for the last 40 years. he is married to a guatemalteca. Surprise was Senthil Kumar from chennai who is there for the last one year exporting pharma from India. he speaks Spanish fluently and has become almost a latino!

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