Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gutemala City, Guatemala

Masks and costumes
Daniel arranged for a driver to take us on a tour of Guatemala City. He picked us up at 9 am and took us first to the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia in Zona 13 (near the airport). We thought at first it was closed as it looked deserted and we were the only car parked outside (the grounds are very neglected). But we were just the only visitors.  The collection of ancient Mayan artifacts is excellent but the labeling is very sparse even in Spanish and there is little in English. The masks and jade jewelry were wonderful and I loved the playful animals and people in the pottery.
Next was the new and beautiful Museo Ixchel, named for the Maya goddess of the moon, women, reproduction and textiles. The huge collection of textiles and costume is artistically arranged and has extensive explanations in Spanish and English. We watched 2 of the 3 movies that are available on History of Guatemalan costume and the Confradia Societies. These were set up by the Catholic church to control the Mayan population but they have turned into locally organized ways to celebrate not only Catholic saints but their Mayan beliefs.  Leadership of these powerful groups is passed to a different man (and his wife) each year and they host the round of festivals around the town's Saint's Day.
Later we headed into the central area (Zona 1) for an excellent lunch at Restaurant Altuna (5a Ave 12-31, followed by a stroll down the pedestrian only street and the Parque Central.
And lots of pottery

At the Museum of Anthropology

The heads carved into the back of this bench were so animated

The Ixchel Museum of Textiles and Clothing 

The courtyard of the Museum of Anthropologie

In general you are allowed to touch nothing in
the Ixchel Museum but they had a small section
where you could try the local headpieces (not
in handwoven fabrics of course).

Restaurant Altuna in central Guatemala City where we
enjoyed Spanish specialities

Bacalao (dried salt cod) with pimentos and garlic

Scott's Paella

the "side dishes" with my Bacalao

The central room of the restaurant - the old courtyard of the
original Colonial home.

A look down one of the main streets

The enormously popular pedestrian only street that is
bisected by the main Plaza.
One of the covered shopping centers along the way
The mayor of Guatemala City wanted to give the citizens a
taste of Christmas in snow country! Here is the "ski lift" in
the Parque Central with the Presidential Palace behind.
The skating rink. Notice most of the people are clinging to the
sides of the rink. After a while many managed tentative
movement to the center. There weren't many experts!
This facade of the original Cathedral is mostly intact after
multiple earthquakes. 
The interior is very bright and huge with lovely flower
arrangements at the alters, decorated for Christmas
Clowns and entertainers of all kinds provided fun for the many
families that paraded the streets and park
I loved the hats on these two boys - posing
with one of the street "statues"
This group of kids enjoy a rest and some snacks. Unlike the countryside, here even the girls were modern dress.
The new "street cars" that provide safe and comforable
transportation on set routes through the city. 

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