In college, I studied abroad in Mexico. I remember the two hardest parts of reverse culture-shock being (1) "the houses in the United States are so boring! Where are the orange, hot pink and teal houses?" and (2) "I just had a life-changing experience only to return to a life where nothing has changed." After a much shorter trip in Guatemala, I didn't feel as much reverse culture-shock. I have had a few emotional moments wishing that I could give children everywhere (especially girls) the opportunities I've had, like education. Mostly though, I've just had little reminders of the beautiful country. Like the night we drove home as the sun was setting and I looked to C and said, "The sky reminds me of Guatemala." He looked up, smiled and said "You're right, the clouds do look like mountains in the distance." So, here are three pictures of the mountains in the distance. One for each place we stayed: Guatemala City, Antigua, and Lake Atitlán.
|Volcán Fuego, Guatemala City, Guatemala|
|Cobblestone Streets, Antigua, Guatemala|
|Lake Atitlán, Tzununá, Guatemala|
Now, the part of trip that's relevant to this blog is the food! Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to eat a lot of traditional Guatemalan or Mayan dishes on our trip. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but we ate a surprising number of sandwiches. Ok, I do have an idea of how it happened: I was nervous to eat anywhere without lots of gringos or a recommendation (consequently, neither of us got sick over the 9 days we were traveling). Also, when you stay on Lake Atitlán, you pretty much have to eat dinner at your hotel because the public ferry service stops at dusk. (A little tidbit I have to share: our last hotel on Lake Atitlán had a number of breakfast choices each named after a city. My mouth dropped when I saw Guanajuato--the city in Mexico where I studied abroad--as one of the options. I've been meaning to ask the owners about their connection to Guanajuato. I'm sure you can guess what I ordered.)
We did have a traditional desayuno guatemalteco, which is eggs scrambled with onion and tomato served with refried black beans. The most authentic meal we had was easily our lunch at a tiny little comedor in Antigua where we drank té de flor de jamaica (hibiscus iced tea) and ate pepian (a traditional chicken stew) with picante and half of an avocado. The next day, I unexpectedly ordered a hibiscus smoothie thinking it was iced tea. It was a happy surprise! We took a chocolate making class and learned how to make cocao tea, cacahuatl (Mayan hot chocolate) and chocolatl (Spanish hot chocolate). It was through this class that we tried a special, hot, little Guatemalan chile called the chile cobanero. Our already impressive dried chile collection now includes a bag of cobanero chiles and a bag of ground cabanero chile. Another spicy highlight was a jalapeño salsa that C got with huevos rancheros one afternoon. I brought a jar home in the hope that we can replicate the flavor. Did I mention coffee? Though I'm not usually a coffee drinker, I sampled a number of lattes.
I've already gotten my hands into the chile cobanero and purchased a bag of hibiscus flowers. Once I'm over my break-up with bread (the standard continental breakfast at B&B's in Guatemala is bread with butter and jam. So much bread!), I hope to share a recipe for a delightful avocado and cheese sandwich. That one is slightly dependent on my ability to make jalapeño salsa. Hopefully I'll be able to re-create some dishes and drinks worth sharing. Stay tuned!
*Important note: if you are interested in more details about our trip to Guatemala, please ask! Planning a trip to Guatemala? I'm more than happy to give you our recommendations for lodging, food, and fun. Haven't ever thought about traveling to Guatemala? Let me try to change your mind...