Thursday, August 23, 2018

Blueberries in Guatemala? Truth or Hoax?

A while back, I saw an article on Facebook that Guatemala was now an exporter of arándanos to the United States. The article showed a picture of blueberries. HUH? There are blueberries in Guatemala? And enough of them that they can be exported? I had to do more research on this!

blueberries in Guatemala arándanos
Guatemalan blueberries!
First of all, the word for blueberry is not really well-defined in Latin American, probably because they're so new here. I have heard arándano, arándano azul (as opposed to arándano rojo, which is a cranberry), mora azul (blue blackberry), and even just spoken in Spanish with an accent, blooberi. You can read a bunch of people discussing this exact thing on this page.

This bag of trail mix shows how confusing things are when Spanish is not the same in every location.
In the picture above, the ingredients are actually just yellow raisins, peanuts, cranberries, blueberries, and cashews. But they had to put two different words for almost every ingredient. And they put arándaos for cranberries and then just "blueberry". Only one! Ha ha!

In Panajachel, I have only see blueberries frozen in bags in Sandra's grocery. I have not once seen them at the market. Asking around, I learned that blueberries are grown in the far north of Guatemala, near Huehuetenango. Mister Jon's restaurant serves blueberry pancakes with berries from Huehue. Yum!

The article about exporting blueberries says that they will be grown in hothouse farms in Chimaltenango, which is near the capital. Blueberries need a certain type of acidic soil that is not found here, so they are probably going through a lot of trouble to make them grow. Plus, I believe they need a freezing period as well. Not sure how they're gonna do that in the Land of Eternal Spring. 😁

I've posted before that Guatemala has blueberry-flavored pop (soda), which is both hilarious and delicious. They also have blueberry jam, blueberry-flavored candies, AND just today I discovered a limited edition Chapina popsicle that is blueberry flavor and made to look like the Guatemalan flag. Sweet!

Special edition Chapina popsicle. Chapina is colloquial for Guatemalan woman.
The package says "arándano" on the bottom left.
Look! It's the flag! (Minus the crest in the middle.) It was quite tasty.
My Canadian friend has said to me that she is planning a trip home deliberately during blueberry season so she can gorge on them. When I went to Florida, my sister bought me fresh blueberries that I devoured with gusto! Somethin' about those little blue orbs that is just super yum and so Canadian. Tastes like home.

Now I've got to go and find out where that darn blueberry farm is...and if they have an outlet store! 😊

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cats Are Better Than Dogs -- Sorry Not Sorry

Our foster kittens are one month old! They are freaking ADORABLE. And so easy. The mother cat, Summer, takes care of them so well. Kittens are way easier to have than puppies, that's for sure, especially when they have their own mother and I don't have to wake up every two hours to bottle feed them, like I did with Noodles.

orange kitten ginger cat
How cute is he??? 😍

We are overloaded with foster dogs right now. It's difficult to find homes for adult dogs, especially females. Guatemalans prefer males and prefer puppies. We explain that the females are sterilized and won't go into heat or have babies, but it's still a hard sell. We will keep trying!

Cinder is super smart and loving. She is our newest foster doggie.
(But not for long. We're getting another tomorrow!)
Sassy is so energetic and people-focused. She wants someone to love!
Snowflake is the sweetest, more lovable puppers! Her brother was adopted but she is still with us. Why?? She's so cute!
Honey-Bear is quiet and independent and has legs for miles! Ha ha! She is a beautiful young dog and I hope she can find the perfect home..
If anyone would like to help with the cost of food and medications for all these doggies, please head over to AYUDA's page here and make a donation. We have gratefully accepted donations of dog food from several friends in the community, so a big THANK YOU goes out to them! 😊

Saturday, August 18, 2018

It's Tuc-Tuc Time!

I love tuc-tucs. 😍
What's a tuc-tuc, you ask?
Officially, they're called auto rickshaws, and the word is sometimes spelled tuk-tuk, from the original Thai word that was actually just an onomatopoeia for the sound their little engines make as they putter around.
How 'bout I just show you?
A typical tuc-tuc in Guatemala.
Tuc-tucs are the personal public transportation of small towns in Guatemala. Here in Panajachel, they cost Q5 per person within town. If you leave town, it's Q10 and up. If you get one really late at night, like after 10pm, they'll charge you Q10 per person as well. Other towns have different rates, so be sure to ask before you get in.

Oftentimes, there are so many available tuc-tucs that they'll pass by you and offer, "Taxi?", especially if you're a white woman standing on the side of the road with bags of groceries. 😀 If you need to hail one, you put your arm forward from your body, not above shoulder height, and flap your hand. It's weird. Watch the locals to see how they do it! You don't raise your hand over your head like hailing a cab in New York City. 

Most tuc-tucs in Pana are red, but occasionally you will see a yellow tuc-tuc.
The tuc-tucs of the traffic cops are lime green!
This tuc-tuc has a spoiler. HA HA!
Also, it has advertising for the grocery store. The tuc-tuc owner gets paid Q125 per month to have this put on his tuc-tuc.

A tuc-tuc with an ad for booze. Ha! 
This tuc-tuc has its rain flaps on. They don't really work so well. Ha! Water still splashes in when it's really pouring out but, hey, it's better than walking.
Some useful Spanish phrases you'll need to know when using tuc-tucs to get around:
A dondé vas? - Where are you going?
No estoy disponible. - I'm not available. (The driver is off the clock or waiting for another passenger.)
a la derecha - to the right
a la izquierda  - to the left
un poco mas lejos - a little further
allá, allí -- there (Spanish speakers have many words for "there". Watch this video from Butterfly Spanish)
aqui - here
cerca de - near to
hacia de - towards

Another really cool thing about the tuc-tucs in Panajachel is that many of them have been painted and customized. I've spent many, many months taking pictures of them to show you!
This one is good! Captain America
Dragon Ball Z
Superman and Batman
I'm not sure why it's #89 but also "The Number Three"
The back of the tuc-tuc above. I think it's a Transformer. And bullet holes too. 
I don't know what Parza is. 
Cool mods to the front of this tuc-tuc
Scary alien robots are cool.
An impressive Hulk tuc-tuc
The back of the Hulk tuc-tuc
A rather sad looking Thor.
Suicide Squad!
The absolute BEST art on a tuc-tuc I've ever seen. Predator vs Alien
(Hey, who's that skinny white dude to the right?? 😄)
A tuc-tuc modified to look like a chicken bus! Adorable!
Another SUPER cool things in Pana that I absolutely LOVE is the tuc-tucs get all lit up at night. I think it's so adorable and fun, though some people find it tacky. There is even a tuc-tuc with a disco ball inside it! 🎇
I made a short video of tuc-tucs in action in Pana, including at 1:01 my favourite night-time tuc-tuc, the kitty-cat tuc-tuc! Take a look.

My favourite tuc-tuc...because of the driver! :D 

This is my good friend, Victor, tuc-tuc #88. He gave me the answers to all my tuc-tuc questions!
Gracias, Victor!
My friend, Victor, told me I could put his phone number here and anyone who visits Pana can call him for a ride. If he's not available. he can find you a driver who is.
VICTOR (502)5557-9701
If you have WhatsApp, it is a free call (I think. I don't use Whatsapp.) If you are calling from an American phone, you will need to use the 502 area code.
Victor speaks really good English and is super friendly and helpful. He can also arrange for tours in the area and take you to all the local sites, even out to Santa Catarina and San Antonio, which is a beautiful drive. Tell him Cristel sent you! 😊

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Things Taped Together

There's this weird thing they do here in Guatemala at the grocery stores. They tape things to other things, like random things almost. The purpose? I don't know. To get rid of stuff? Their combinations can be kinda baffling, as you'll see in the pictures below. But I have to admit, I have purchased something I didn't necessarily need because it had something interesting taped to it. So I guess it works! (Mayonnaise with Tupperware containers taped to it is my favourite, two things I always need more of.)
Here's an article that talks a little bit more about it, so you know it's not just me that's seeing this.

A bowl taped to cereal. Makes sense.
Pork cracklins with orange juice. Interesting choice.
Balloons taped to Corn Flour. Huh?
More balloons, this time taped to oil.
Bert saw the balloons taped to the oil and said, "Add some girls, and we've got a party!" 😆

free items taped to other food grocery store Guatemala
A whole display of things taped to things!
I also remember reading a blog post about some people in Guatemala who had an idea to see what they could tape together and get away with it. Like, they went into the grocery store with some clear packing tape and just picked up two random things, taped them together, and then tried to buy them. I can't find the article though! If anyone has read it and knows it, please comment below! I thought it was hilarious.
Happy shopping! 😊