Guate No Es Mala
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Show some love for Guatemala City! The city has somewhat a bad reputation and its often glossed over in travel guides, with most advising to forgo the city entirely. In my opinion, Guate has some amazing places to check out, and I think the more good stuff that turns up, the more its gonna blossom. I suppose with the eternal stereotypical Sagittarian optimism and wanderlust, I’m gonna see the good in most parts of the world. That’s not to say I've enjoyed every single country or town I've visited - some are straight up shit, and those places are:
Shaw’s Sweet Factory in Dundee (I had expected some kind of Roald Dahl adventure and instead was extremely let down)
Paris on a grey rainy Monday (everything is shut, but maybe I experienced Paris Syndrome? Who knows.)
So Guate, you big grimey babe, how can I best describe you? Some areas of the city are like a 90s/Early 00s nostalgia trip for me. I swear I even smell Cool Waters on the Transmetro (classic fragrance). The music from the guys selling audio equipment near Avenida Sexta is straight up old skool dance bangers plus I found a Pog on the ground. Maybe it’s a key to a Time Machine?
Mostly I'm in the city for work, a design conference and for buying materials, but also I’ve been there a few times for fun stuff too. I feel Guate City is a bit unloved, but there are some treasures to be found, like men herding goats through the city. My list is most likely going to grow over time, but so far, here are a few.
In Zone 10 in the quiet area of the University sits Museo Ixchel and Museo Popol Vuh, both open during the week and then only 9am-1pm on a Saturday. Fabric weaving history, foot looms and backstrap looms used by the women to make cortes, a wide range of cultural cloths, and the meanings behind regional fabrics and their motifs, super fascinating stuff for a Saturday morning of museums before a wander through the quiet residential streets of Zone 10.
Museo Popol Vuh
Ancient Mayan ceramics and the story of the Popol Vuh text, I really liked all the symbolism of the Jaguar Funerary Urns, and that the Jaguar is the nocturnal symbol of the afterlife- ancient Mayans placed the bodies of the deceased inside massive decorative urns before they went into their tomb. The story of the Popol Vuh is really imaginative and wild, and the illustrations and inscriptions in the ancient Stela there are beautiful. There's a great animated film (also on youtube) of the Ancient Mayan story of the Popol Vuh, the animations are faded and a little trippy, but very pretty.
Cuatro Grados Norte
Zone 4 is like a very small section of Hackney, used to be industrial but now converted into hipstery spots including:
La Galeria, a really pretty concept store with beautiful hand-crafted Guatemalan and central American products, all lovingly designed, perfect for gift shopping.
La Esquina, there’s one in Antigua as well, but they both have different vendors, it's like a permanent food market, Street Feast-esque dining with lots to chose from, pretty decor and a chilled vibe.
Fado Bakery has lots of artisanal breads and sweet things.
Principe Gris, a small taproom with craft beers, I had the lightest one and sat looking over the Casa de las Aguilas.
Better Burger, Zona 10
"Welcome to Good Burger, Home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?" pretty sure this place is Keenan and Kel's sequel- Better Burger, with Orange Soda refills galore. Small menu, easy to choose and their burgers are banging.
Bella Vista Zona 10
My housemate Misty and I had breakfast here and met with my instagram pal Zach, for actual in real life meet-ups! Social media is good for some things right? I started following his photography page (@madewellpix) before I moved here and it was really cool to actually hang out. The cafe place itself does a really great flat white, cafe con leche condensada and yummy eggs.
Megapaca, Various Locations
Thrift shopping on a bigscale- all the second hand clothes you can find at a great price. Good for the environment and good for the pocket. Spend an afternoon having a good look through the rails and then try on all the clothes and do a montage! It's a chain too, so they’re all over the city.
Oakland Mall, Zona 10
For an afternoon hanging out at the mall, this one wins. Misty and I went purely to look for hiking gear for #myfirsthike and ended up in The North Face. Yup, I went and bought ruddy hiking boots and a bag twice my size. Also went to Forever 21 as that is how old we tend to act on occasions, and then to Claire’s Accessories so we could complete our day of Teenage Dreaming and I got my ears re-pierced. Which I felt I should do purely for work reasons as I don’t feel I can truly design great earrings without actually being able to wear them. So, a very practical mall trip overall. They also have a great food court, MAC, L’Occitane, a large department store, a skate shop and a cinema.
Fruit Market, Zona 1
Loud, with fruit vendors all over. Just outside El Calavario.
Gringas Cart with No Name in La Esperanza, Zona 12
The very same Gringa cart I went to when the shooting happened from one of my older posts, so I’m always a little bit nervous going out. But this is my favourite meal in the city. 15Q for a flour tortilla filled with shredded salad, guacamole, plus chile and lime. Basically a big mess of deliciousness and the man is super lovely. We always bump into a lot of the local kids on the way too who love having a chat.
Mayoreo, Zona 12
Fresh fruits and veg, the best and cheapest in-season produce just outside Centra Sur on the transmetro line. Bright colours and bright people, always a surprise to see what weird fruits are around.
UPAVIM, Zona 12
One very important place I should add to the list is my workplace! I genuinely think it’s worth a visit, to see how we work, and of course, a tour can be arranged.
Guate is home sweet home for the time being and I’m very happy to call it that.