Christmas in Guatemala
We were nearly out of purified water, and then we ran out of gas. My taro root had been roasting in the oven for an hour when I began to wonder why it still wasn’t quite done. If I’ve learned anything from Guatamalans it’s that every problem has a solution. Max, Ann, and their two boys arrived 30 minutes later carrying the precious gas, along with food for our Christmas Eve meal.
Christmas Eve dinner is the big celebration here in Guatemala.
Families gather around the table feasting on tamales, kaq’ik, grapes (for good luck), and of course chicken (every Guatemalan meal has chicken). They stay up until midnight to shoot off fireworks, filling the night sky with bright colors and loud booms. Martin and I went up to the roof of the house to watch the show. It was a little terrifying watching the large fireworks be set off by untrained people in close proximity to us. And yet it felt like a joyous celebration, as if each firework was saying “Hooray! It is the birthday of Jesus!” I’m not a religious person, yet I can honor the religious beliefs of others, especially in such a spectacular display of joy.
Martin and I spent Christmas Eve day wandering around Cobán.
Granizadas, or flavored ice, are often made with artificially flavored sugar syrups. Not so at El Rincon Granizadas y Mas. I had the Pepitas de Lemon, which was crushed pumpkin seeds, cayenne pepper, lime juice, and salt over shaved ice, while Martin devoured the Pina Colada – crushed fresh pineapple with shaved coconut over shaved ice. More please!
We walked to the market only to discover it had ballooned in size for Christmas Eve. Streets normally opened to cars were now filled with so many vendors that customers could barely squeeze through. I bought some taro root to roast and mash for dinner.
We climbed the stairway next to our laundromat to find a huge church with an impressive view of Coban and a creepy cemetary.
That evening, we waved goodnight to Max and Ann as they left our house stuffed with delicious food.
The boys carefully carried their freshly assembled gingerbread house to the car while Rachel, their chihuahua, followed closely at their heels.
Exhausted from the day’s adventures, Martin and I collapsed into bed and drifted off to sleep while listening to fireworks echo in the night.
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup sliced scallions
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup salsa verde
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 8 oz frozen shrimp, thawed
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Lettuce leafs
- Mix the black beans, scallions, bell pepper, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, salsa verde, and avocado together in a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 the lime over the mixture and stir gently. Set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut oil. When the oil is warm, add the thawed shrimp, stirring to coat in the oil. Cook for 2-4 minutes, then stir to cook the shrimp on the other side. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Toss with the remaining lime juice. Add to the black bean mixture. Taste. Season with salt and cayenne pepper as needed.
- To serve, fill each lettuce leaf with a scoop or two of the bean mixture. The amount you add to the lettuce leaf is determined by the size of the leaf. Arrange on a plate and serve at room temperature.