Work arounds – baked beans, chili sauce and idioms …

The Cambridge Dictionary online definition of the idiom “work around” is: a way of dealing with a problem or making something work despite the problem, without completely solving it.

For months I’ve wanted to make baked beans. The recipe I’ve always used calls for a can of Bush’s Baked Beans. After scouring Walmart and another store that carries “gringo” food and not finding anything close with the name “baked beans”, I decided to do a “work around” – what is available in Guatemala that I can substitute for baked beans?

There’s no problem finding beans (dried or in a can) in a Latin country, but which one is closest to American style baked beans? After searching online and studying the selections in stores, I took a chance and bought this can of frijoles.

The second “work around” that I now faced is that my recipe calls for chili sauce. Again, after scouring several stores and not finding it, I looked online for DIY chili sauce and made my own.

End result … I made my first “Baked Beans Guatemala” and the taste is yummy and satisfying. With this “work around”, I’m now able to make baked beans anytime I want!

Idioms … I once heard a speaker say “to know a language is to know the idioms”. The English language is full of idioms or phrases that we use every day and don’t realize they don’t translate literally, such as “work around”. To a nonnative speaker, this is baffling. Spanish also has its own idioms and I’m challenged as I learn that it’s not a “piece of cake”!

As I interact with my Guatemalteca friends, they know I’m attempting to speak in Spanish using its idioms, so they’ll use the common phrase “poco a poco” – little by little. And that’s exactly how language learning is – poco a poco!

Filed under article topic: Living in Guatemala,Our Adventures!
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I love my rooftop!

One of the things I love about our apartment complex is the rooftop.  It’s used for fiestas, drying “ropa” (clothes) but for me, I just love being up above it all in the open air and being able to look around.  I love watching the approaching rain storms, sunsets, evening lights and fireworks (more about that later!).

This is great place to memorize español verb conjugations (ha ha!). This faces the southwest so get nice sunsets looking this way. To the left a little bit (on the other side of the hill) is the volcano Santa Maria/Santiaguito. Santiaguito belches from time to time, but the hill blocks the actual volcano – we just see the big plume (in the dry season when it’s clear).


My vecino (neighbor) Amin is growing spices up here and people hang up clothes to dry. In the distance, up a hill, is la Democracia, a commercial shopping area. You can see the new hotel/mall being built.


But I really love when it rains (pours!). We’re in the rainy season now and I’ll sit in my chair (studying of course) and simply watch the rain pound on the roofs and neighborhoods around me. Frequently there are huge thunderclaps and lightening. At night, the lightening storms are fun to watch – much like I remember from my Minnesota days.


I also love approaching rain storms. You hear it first – the driving rain on the tin roofs as it moves closer and closer towards me – and then it hits!


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6.9 earthquake this week!

Being from California, Leslie and I have experienced our share of earthquakes.  We’ve also experienced small quakes here because of the nearby volcanoes.

But at 1:30 am Tuesday night (why are earthquakes “always” at night?!!) we were jolted awake with the biggest earthquake yet.  Immediately the power went off, we heard a loud bang (our just filled 5 gallon water jug falling down) and other various sounds.  Without lights we grabbed our flashlights (always prepared for emergencies!) and gathered our bearings.

Our little cocina (kitchen) was flooded, but surprisingly only one glass jar with some utensils crashed down.

Everybody else in our apartment building started calling out and everyone was okay.  So we started mopping up our water and about an hour later the electricity came back on.  With nothing else to do we went back to bed – but anticipating aftershocks (none came).

The next morning I walked around town but didn’t see significant damage.  Most of the recent construction here is concrete columns and beams infilled with hollow block, so these buildings came through fine.

This is from our rooftop looking south toward volcanos Santa Maria and Santiaguito (which erupts in smoke and ash from time to time).

This is the view from our rooftop looking west. You can see most of the construction is the column and beam concrete construction, but the old tile roof on the bottom left is an example of an old adobe constructed home. These tend to suffer the damage from earthquakes.


The buildings that sustained damage were the old adobe buildings (some hundreds of years old).

A number of people in Guatemala were killed as a result of this quake.

Filed under article topic: Living in Guatemala,Our Adventures!
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