June 17, 2010

Impressions of Guatemala

silver ring with triangular jade stone, from the market in Guatemala






The image I had of my cousins as babies have now changed as they are almost in high school. My own perspective has changed. I now recognize things that I have never seen before. But my Spanish skills are still those of an 11 year old, my father still looks the same and my grandma's house still smells familiar. Here are my impressions of three weeks Guatemala.

Driving home from the airport I notice how charming Guatemala city is. I can appreciate the beauty of the cracks in the houses, the peeling paint and patched concrete streets. From under every bridge and from every little improvised home, wires come and connect in enormous knotted bundles that hang at the top of electricity poles.

The volcano ‘Pacaya’ erupted on our third day In town only 40km from my grandmother’s home where we were staying. The city was covered in black volcanic sand and the streets looked like black sand beaches. At the same time tropical storm Agatha crossed over the country causing mud streams, overfilling rivers and destroying bridges. Despite the little facilities, people rapidly started to clean their streets, rooftops and gardens from all the fallen ashes. Impressive.

Something that was just as impressive and shocking as the hazards that were occurring was to see the contrast of poverty next to decadence. American lifestyle and commerce dominates and has changed Guatemala. Huge advertisements and lighted billboards are new face of Guatemala-city. Fast food chains have invaded the country and every imaginable luxury product thinkable is available in shopping malls on every other block. Humongous deep fried or sugarcoated food portions are the norm. Everything American is automatically seen as good and is not questioned whatsoever. What people don’t realize is that what they see of the US is brought to them by companies whose only interest is money. People trade in their own culture, lifestyle and customs for what is dictated to them by big American companies.

The ways that companies advertise their products in Guatemala is forcing it upon everybody. And it is done in a shameless and aggressive way. For Example, they approach people living in improvised unpainted (due to their economic position) homes and offer them to paint it for them; with their logo’s, company names and advertising images all over it off course. The result is that the poorest houses become advertisement places. Most of them are already 'taken' by an advertiser. Sometimes we'd drive through entire red/white/blue 'Pepsi' villages or entire navy/white 'Tigo' slum.

Being back in The Netherlands I notice that the opposite of what I just described is what I missed the most. Not having the feeling that someone constantly wants to make me buy something. To compensate my (yet another)rant about how evil I think commerce can be, I've chosen not to upload any pictures with a company name in it. Just unexpected impressions of beautiful Guatemala.


Michelle Elaine said...

That ring is spectacular and the broken concrete is pretty awesome.


Allure said...

Beautiful pictures and beautiful words, I really enjoyed reading this post.

Juliet said...

It must have been very interesting visit with all that culture and nature forces! Beautiful pictures as well!

juliet xxx

Chelsea and Korina said...

I love the first picture!


Fashion wild said...

VERY VERY VERY VERY NICE BLOG!! And amazing photos!

Bianca said...

such beautiful photos!


Anonymous said...


bloo. said...

Great pictues :-)


Anonymous said...

love that ring!

Fashion Cappuccino said...

It's really sad to hear that big companies are taking advantage of poor families like that! It's a beautiful city and I hate to see it be ruined. Great pictures and the last picture is my favorite! xoxoxoxoxo

BarelyVogue said...

great shots
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Josie said...

great photos!

stylestalker said...

GORGEOUS image share!

That first shot is devine!


Jony said...

Beautiful pictures!

saamielola said...

Ik heb het hier wel over winkelkraampjes - ik heb nooit het interieur van mensen binnen gezien, maar er hangen dus giga veel posters van cola/pepsi. Wat vreemd dat ik daar nooit bij stil gestaan heb, dat mensen het doen voor het geld. Geeft de globalisering de schuld(?). Uit jouw tekst lijkt het alsof de cultuur moet onderdoen voor de welstand, wat jammer is. Ik vind het zo spijtig dat je altijd één van de twee moet kiezen. Of je kiest voor de natuur, of voor werkgelegenheid en industrialisering.

Mooie foto's heb je wel getrokken en fijn dat je je familie terug hebt gezien.

Bostonista said...

your pictures are so so so beautiful and yet devastating!

Br!Ne said...

I have to say that I adore your blog. I started reading it just a few days ago thanks to having found you through Chantall of CocoRosa. This post is amazing at it hit home because similar things are happening in my country and it enfuriates me.

xx, Brine

Anonymous said...

Looking at your blog I was quite shocked when I read about my own country on your site, you describe it perfectly, but let me tell you I'm really glad to know that there is people like you somehow involved with Guatemala. Your creativity and beauty are inspiring.

Aminta Paiz said...

I have been scrolling down and reading / looking at all your posts - a lot of hours here without moving- you are so inspiring and I really mean it.
Im from Guatemala , I have been living in Spain for almost two years now.. unfortunately our beautiful country is needing so much help in so many ways.

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