Friday, June 14, 2019

Election Time in Guatemala

I will fully admit that I have no clue about politics in Guatemala -- or any other country really. I've never been a big fan of that kind of stuff. But for the past couple of months, it has been impossible to ignore the upcoming elections.
Things are done a bit differently here than back home in Canada. Let me break it down from a foreigner's point of view.
A political sign near my house. (Plus a stormy sky!)
1. Election advertising is everywhere. It involves a lot of posters on everything from light poles to rock cliffs to tuc-tucs to literally painted on the walls of people's houses. Those cute little lawn signs from Canada are non-existent here. Also, the signs usually have a big X thru the party logo. This looks very strange to me but it's because that's what it will look like on the ballot. You put your X thru the party you're voting for.

2. Election campaigning is LOUD. They have election vehicles. It's usually a truck with a loudspeaker attached to the top of it, and sometimes people riding in the back waving flags. There is a recording of the political party's message playing over the loudspeaker at FULL VOLUME. These trucks roam around town, up and down the streets, from sunrise to sunset. And the fun part is...there are multiple trucks for different campaigns! It gets to be quite the cacophony. (My personal favorite though is the VIVA party. They have the catchiest music.) Why do they do this? I think it's probably due to the lack of televisions. Getting people's attention and spreading the word is not done on TV because not everyone has one. Instead, they go straight to your eardrums at your home and work.

3. Political rallies look like fun! A political party will rent out the football (soccer) stadium and have hot dogs and balloons and a marching band. Loads of people will gather together wearing the party's shirt with logo, waving flags & signs, and blowing noisy plastic horns. Then they all get in their decorated vehicles and drive around town together! It's a riot. Check out this video I made today. The white party (I think it was UCN) was taking over the stadium and main street and the green party (who knows who they were) were on the main street in Jucanya.

4. There are a LOT of parties, like more than 20. The most common ones I see advertising and campaigning have short names like UNE, Fuerzo, Viva, Todos, and Vamos. They mean (roughly translated) --  one, strong, live, together, and let's go. The official party names are much longer but my perception is that they use shorter names because of the low literacy rate in Guatemala, plus the multitude of native languages. Easier to remember UNE as opposed to Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza.

5. People vote on multiple candidates for different positions, all at one time. Once they have voted, they get indelible ink on their right index finger. That way they can't vote twice. A common visual on posters for elections is a happy person holding up an ink-stained index finger. GO HERE for a breakdown of the voting process.

6. The first set of elections is Sunday, June 16th. Then there is a second round in August when the two candidates for President who have the most votes go head-to-head. Kinda weird.

7. The absolute strangest thing about elections in Guatemala? NO DRINKING! For the whole weekend, no liquor is allowed to be sold from stores or bars. What? Why???

I am glad that Guatemala is a democracy and seems to be heading in a progressive direction, despite ongoing problems with corruption. I am happy that so many Guatemaltecos are excited to vote! đź’™Viva Guatemala!đź’™

→ For more detailed information on candidates, parties, and controversy, head over to this Wikipedia article on the 2019 Guatemalan election.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Little Bit O' Rain

When they talk about rainy season in Guatemala, they're not kidding!

Here is a video I took of the river in Panajachel a few minutes after a big rainstorm just passed. Crazy!

For comparison purposes, here is a picture of "Bert" crossing the river just the day before the storm. Pretty tame, right?

And here is a video I got from the local news channel of the waterfall that is about halfway up the hill between Pana and Sololá. There are reports from all over this area of landslides (derrumbes) and flooding.

The bonus to all this? The hills are so lush and green right now. It's gorgeous. Plus our lawn has grown back with a vengeance and is about a foot high, with flowers blooming everywhere. :D

Monday, June 3, 2019

Want to Run a Hostel in Guatemala?

A friend of mine here at Lake Atitlan has been running a cute little hostel called The Hummingbird. It is a small town called Tzununá. She loves it here but would like to go back to Europe for a while and she needs someone to manage the hostel -- with an option to buy if the right person comes along and falls in love with the place. (Like she did!)
Relaxing at Hummingbird Hostel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Hummingbird Hostel is the full package and already has great reviews on Airbnb. This could be a fantastic opportunity for a friendly, resourceful, Zen-like person to move to Guatemala and have a business ready and waiting for them.

Please contact Katy thru one of the links below: 
Hummingbird Hostel on Facebook 
Rooms Listed on Airbnb
Hummingbird Hostel's Website

This could be the dream opportunity you've been waiting for!