Posts Tagged ‘spanish expressions’

Guatemala diaries: Hotel Atitlan to lake Atitlan

March 27, 2013

113116109The gift shop at the hotel is truly amazing( the prices are amazing too but we are assured that the quality is top notch) Of course the great shopper husband goes a little crazy buying for our grandsons and other family members. I have a good time chattering away with the saleswoman in Spanish. I notice that Spanish expressions like”Hijole” are not common in Guate, I have to curb my Mexican spanish here(and forget my chilango spanish too!) What excites me is the fact that people are forgiving when I make mistakes  and are so gracious when I speak the language. We leave the gift shop and I meet the Spanish couple from the gardens; they are also touring the country from Barcelona. Paco and Juaquina are thrilled to continue talking in Spanish having great trouble articulating in English with the other tourists in their group. We go to our room that is  charming and sit down to journal. There is one thing that is a bother though; we keep moving every morning to a different hotel and this particular one is so lovely with the gardens, I would have loved an extra day here.

That evening we go to Santander street in a ‘tuk-tuk” where the guy speaks impeccable English. ” Lived in Chicago for a few years, but had to leave……” he says, I understand why. The shops are exciting and we bargain and buy more little outfits for the grandchildren.  Meanwhile it is time to meet the women, Jennie and Hedda from our group at Bombay Cafe. We go in expecting great food and I order something that is supposed to be an authentic Guatemalan dish, called vegetarian version of pepian. I am thoroughly disappointed with uncooked vegetables and a fairly OK tamale. This means I will not trust everything Lonely Planet tells me.  We keep going out to do more shopping and I tell myself ‘no mas!’ 

Next morning, our packed bags are put in the van and we are hustled to the dock area in the hotel garden. Slowly I get into the boat and we have others besides the four of us. There is Simba, another tour guide, Arty and his 6 tour group; Paco Pena ( he does look like the famous Spanish musician) and his wife are part of that group. Simba tells us that after Antigua, Arty will be our guide and he will depart. I will miss the gentle lion.

Arty is a chatterbox; the moment he finds out that I speak Spanish, he keeps me busy talking. I enjoy the scenery and feel glad that I am not seasick. Well this is a lake, and I should be fine. What a beautiful place! We are surrounded by mountains and some of them are volcanoes. I breathe in the cool air and admire the blue water and greyish -blue mountains all around.  Soon, Hedda decides to steer the boat and my husband is vowing that I do it when we are returning. You are crazy ! I am barely OK sitting in a boat and he expects me to steer it?? The boat ride is not too long and we see women washing clothes near the shoreline, white-billed ducks called pato de poc  and get down at Santiago de Atitlan.

Guatemala diaries:Chichi contd

March 25, 2013

Before dinner that evening( where we are the only  two served by our waiter,Juan, dressed in 16th century style attire) we go to the bar area to talk to the gentleman at the bar. He is a small man with glasses and speaks English and Spanish, but tells me that he is Mayan and speaks Quiche. His mayan name is Loo with an accent on the ‘oo’ sound that abruptly ends, kind of hard for me to say! What a charming room and adjoining rooms! We discover an ancient typewriter in one of the rooms and  paintings by early 19th century Guatemalan artists called Garabito andAlfredo Suarez. We discover a computer as well in that room and quickly check messages.

Loo is very friendly and talks about the German American who started this Inn. (There is a faded black and white picture of the gentelman, early 50’s rendition. Most hotels in Guatemala seem to be owned by Americans who must have come here early on in the 20th century) He mentions that tourism is low right now( pretty obvious since we seem to be the only people around)I ask him about  buying stuff at the market and he states that it is a good place to bargain and buy beautiful hand embroidered ‘huipiles’, the blouse the women wear.  I regret in my mind the fact that I missed a chance that evening buying one of those by bargaining too hard, feel like a tightwad not having bought something from that woman.

Juan comes and puts firewood and lights the fireplace. We go to bed with several layers shivering and I, for once, wear my shawl tightly wrapped around in the morning to have a look at the beautiful birds chirping while my husband grumbles about the cold, cold night.  Before Simba arrives, we have breakfast and walk up and down the undulating, cobblestoned  streets as the vendors come in and out cleaning up after the Sunday market.037027043056040

Guatemala diaries:3

March 20, 2013

I realized that my posts are not chronological. So let me start from the beginning. As I mentioned earlier, we had sufficient warning as we picked up our bags from a young woman who lives half the time in Guatemala and the other half in Miami. As we walked out and I was successful in warding off anyone who spoke to me in English by responding in Spanish, we saw our driver ( carrying our name and tour company). Marcelo chattered all the way and I noticed some big buildings. We were staying at Barcelo (Westin chain) close to Zona viva ( Zone 10) the safer zone. The hotel was beautiful and the young man attending to incoming cars assured us we could walk around till 6pm. We stepped outside gingerly and saw ( what else) a Macdonald’s. Reassured by a fast food chain close by we walked towards Zone 10 where most of the tourist crowd was housed in several hotels we could see. The crossroads near the hotel was pretty with a big jacaranda tree in bloom. Lots of little shops lined the sides of the street and we peeped in to look at the wonderful brightly colored textiles. We quickly returned to our hotel. That was our first glimpse of the capital.We were leaving early morning for Chichicastenango, for the Sunday market and we would probably see more exciting handicrafts there.ImageImageImage

Guatemala Diaries

March 18, 2013

Just came back from Guatemala, or Guate like they say there. ( Looked at t-shirts that say”Guats up?” or “Guat happened in Gaute?” or something crazy like that) As we started to pick up our baggage we were warned to be careful in Guatemala. I hear this in every new place I go to. I visit India every year and if I did not dress completely like the Indians there but hang around in Western clothes and spoke with an American accent I would have to be wary. I do code- switching as soon as I get in line to get my passport stamped, I bob my head according to the custom there and start mixing Tamil generously with my English. The size of my dot on my forehead increases and once I go to my city Chennai, I wear saris most of the time. Nobody even suspects that I am an NRI( non-resident Indian) except when they see my oversize bags at the airport every time I come and leave!

Ok, this does not work for us in Guatemala. Even though I speak good Spanish, I am carrying a camera and shooting pictures. I am definitely a tourist, it is written large on my face! So I stick with the tourists and have a guide with us. One of the first things that amazes me are the churches. The Spanish came to Guate with their Dominican, Franciscan and Merced missionaries. As a writer, I am tempted to start a historical fiction about the period they came( 1520s) and the way the Mayan Indians have blended their own earlier beliefs with the Catholic beliefs. They have an extra apostle, called San Simon( saint Simon) or Maximon who drinks rum and smokes cigars. They have offerings of rum to him and come to him via shamaans or curanderos to cure them of ills in their lives. They collect orange-colored beans and tell the story of their future lives by arranging and rearranging those beans. These beans grow all along the way to Chichicastenango where you see colorfully clothed Mayan woman selling beautifully embroidered ‘huipiles’ and mats. Near Lake Atitlan there are over 24 different indigenous Mayan languages and varying attire.029 037 027 036 073 148