Culture

This New Netflix Documentary Will Show The World The Rich Cultural And Environmental Beauty Of Guatemala

You might love or hate the fact that streaming services have changed the way in which we watch television, but there is no denying that we have way more entertainment options than before, and that the depth and reach of the topics that are accessible cover almost the whole planet. Through streaming services we can learn about other cultures, particularly through documentaries, a genre that is getting more financial resources and wider audiences.

A few years ago documentaries used to be the boring stuff that abuelitos watched when the soccer season was off, but they are becoming increasingly relevant to popular culture with releases such as the true crime series “Making a Murderer”, which got folk really obsessed. 

But documentaries are also a way to travel without leaving your couch. So key to fostering a different and more nuanced view of Latin America (a region that has been vilified during the Trump years through harrowing and sometimes over the top migration stories) is the dissemination of documentaries that showcase the cultural and natural richness of the continent.

A new Netflix production promises to do exactly this: the feature “Guatemala: Corazón del Mundo Maya” (Guatemala: The Heartland of the Maya World)  will prove that the Central American country is a beautiful place with plenty of past, a present that us trying to come to terms with recent historical trauma, and a future that is promising. 

The documentary will be available from November 30 and promises to showcase the natural and cultural beauty of the Central American country.

Credit: Guatemala: Corazón del Mundo Maya / Netflix

Particularly as recent geopolitical understandings of Central America in the United States tend to characterize the region and its inhabitants as troubled and a “nuisance” in regards to migration, the fact that a Netflix documentary focuses in las bondades of Guatemala is a welcome development. The documentary will be a cultural and geological survey of the country, and is directed by Luis Ara and Ignacio Jaunsolo. It will be narrated by Christian Morales. This audiovisual journey will take us from the mountain range Sierra de las Minas to Esquipulas and Chiquimula. Netflix has also delved into the ancient traditions of other Latin American countries such as Peru and its Inca legacy. 

Sure, Mexico has a rich Mayan heritage, but Guatemala tiene lo suyo!

Audiences will get to know important tourist sites such as Antigua (perhaps the most Insta ready city in the world!), but also be witness to the glorious Mayan past that has permeated Guatemalan culture, language and identity for centuries. Archeological sites such as Peten will be showcased, alongside cultural manifestations such as traditional attires. Production lasted for about seven months, a lengthy shooting. The music was created by artists such as Eric Kinny, Songs of Water, Luke Atencio, Thad Kopec, On Earth, CHPTRS, Ryan Taubert, Kingpinguïn, Albatross, A. Taylor, Dexter Britain, Jordan Critz, Tony Anderson and Kerry Muzzey, 

So Netflix wants to compete with NatGeo in exploring the Mayan world.

Netflix realized that NatGeo documentaries about the mystic Mayan world had good ratings, particularly due to the obsession that some Global North countries had with this ancient civilization after the year 2012, which according to some interpretations of Mayan codes would signal the end of the world. And well, we all know that didn’t happen right?

BTW, now that Star Wars fever is at an all time high… did you know the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala were feature in Episode IV: A New Hope?

Credit: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope / Lucas Films

There you go, you can surprise and impress even your geekiest friends with this piece of warsie trivia! Tikal was used as the location of a rebel base in the planet of Yavin 4. As the Wookiepeedia states: “The shot where a Rebel oversees the Millennium Falcon landing on Yavin was taken on top of a building known as Temple IV looking east where Temples I, II and III can be seen on film”. So yes, Han Solo has been in Guatemala! 

And there are other Latin American documentaries on Netflix that are totally worth checking out. We recommend “Lorena: Light-footed woman”!

Credit: Ready Set Cut

Our favorite is “Lorena: Light-footed Woman”, which follows an indigenous ultramarathon woman of tarahumara descent who follows her people’s tradition of running in the mountains for distances that far surpass a traditional marathon. And they do this up high in the mountains, where oxygen is scarce. They are some of the most resilient athletes in the world! This documentary was shot by Juan Carlos Rulfo, an experienced filmmaker and son of writer Juan Rulfo, perhaps the greatest scribe that Mexico has ever produced. 

Guatemalans Called Out A Viral Tweet For Misrepresenting Their Nation’s Tamal

Culture

Guatemalans Called Out A Viral Tweet For Misrepresenting Their Nation’s Tamal

@urfavsalvi / Twitter

It started with a simple tweet: “Aver which one do prefer?” Bryant Sosa Lara (@urfavsalvi) asked Twitter their favorite tamal, alongside a photo of different maíz-featured recipes emblazoned with their corresponding emoji flags. Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan Twitter rose up to toss their votes into the ring, and to defend their nation’s tamal recipe. “And I’m not trying to start an argument lol you’ll be surprised by my answer,” Sosa Lara follow-up tweeted to no avail. Thousands of likes, retweets and comments later, #Guatemala started trending and Sosa Lara had to post the most bien portado video to explain Latin America’s biggest misunderstanding yesterday.

Twitter users were quick to point out that one of these is not a tamal.

CREDIT: @URFAVSALVI / TWITTER

The Salvadoran “tamal” is in the center and before you start questioning (like everyone else) why El Salvador is represented by a burrito, don’t. “The salvi tamal is wrapped cause it JUST CAME OUT LA OLLA IT WAS HOT AF pasmados inútiles,” Sosa Lara defended. Guatemaltecos rose from their graves to point out that their representative dish is not a tamal. “Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in banana leaf wtf,” tweeted one Guatemalteca. “Those are chuchitos,” another Guatemalteca pointed. Pretty soon, everyone and their mother were trying to point out that Sosa Lara was wrong.

Thats not a Guatemalan Tamale. The ones from Guate are made using a banana leaf and is like twice the size of Mexican tamales,” tweeted one Señor Leo (@SenorLeo_). “Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in a banana leaf that are then individually wrapped in aluminum foil so that they’re as moist as possible,” tweeted Ivan Ortega (@IvanOrtega94). Others were perplexed AF, tweeting cropped photos of the Guatemalan dish and asking, “que en the f*** es esto?” Someone else hilariously joked, “Damm Guatemalan joints are FIREEEEE”

Guatemalan Twitter educated the lost and confused: “It’s a Chuchito, it isn’t really a Guatemalan Tamale.”

CREDIT: @WALTERG_REAL / TWITTER

“ES LA MISMA MIERDA!!!!! people really trippin cuz this man displayed a chuchito 💀” an incredulous tweeter shared along with a screenshot of a Google image search of chuchitos. Guatemalan chuchitos are usually much firmer and smaller than Mexican tamales but are prized for the salsa and curtido that comes with it. While Guate chuchitos are made with maís like Mexican tamales, in Guatemala, a tamal is always wrapped in a banana leaf and made of potatoes or plantains. 

“Lmao leave it to a salvadorian to start a full on war 🇬🇹,” someone else tweeted.

Even though Sosa Lara never called them tamales, the Internet got confused and started dissing Guatemala, enraging Guatemalans.

CREDIT: @YOOADRIENNEEE / TWITTER

“Guate with the sad a** tamal. that jaunt ta mal,” tweeted one Francisco. Of course, no proud Guatemalteca would allow their country’s tan rico tamales and chuchitos to be so misunderstood. “That ain’t no Guatemalan tamal that’s a chuchito,” one Adrienne responded. A dialogue commenced. “Ma’am that’s the word used to described a small dog in Salvadorian lingo. Example: “El perro de blues clues es un chuchito”. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk,” Francisco replied. “Well in guate it’s what that pic tries to pass as a traditional tamale,” Adrienne responded. Okay, alright, we see you.

But Lara Sosa *never* once called the chuchito a tamal and had to post a video to clarify and end the war.

CREDIT: @URFAVSALVI / TWITTER

“Why they diss our tamales like that?? It don’t even look like this?? 🇬🇹” tweeted @muertoculo. Sosa Lara took time out of his life to individually respond to the offended Guatemaltecos to tell them, “Scroll down and look at my video pasmado.” In the video, Sosa Lara took a moment to politely educate the people who called him “uncultured swine.” To all the folks who came out to angrily tell Sosa Lara that the chuchito isn’t a tamal… he knows. After people watched the video, there was only one conclusion to be made: that man es bien portado.  He politely recited all the shade he got and spoke “con todo respeto.” 

Y’all. The Chuchito won anyway.

CREDIT: @MUNOZISFANCY / TWITTER

Though Sara Martinez has an idea that could give us peace on earth. Why do we have to compare what the word “tamal” means in different countries? Her bid for world peace is to just compare dishes, regardless of their name, based on their ingredients. “K, first off: chuchitos are not even in the same level and they still won. Second, We need to start comparing husk with husk tamales and banana leaves with banana leaf tamales. Masa with masa and masa de papa with masa de papa. Don’t trip,” Guatemalteca Sara Martinez tweeted, enforcing universally respected tamal rules.

READ: People On Twitter Can’t Get Enough Of A Woman Selling The Official Tamales Of Billie Eilish

This Guatemalan Mom Was Separated From Her Son At The Border After Enduring A Gunshot To The Face

Things That Matter

This Guatemalan Mom Was Separated From Her Son At The Border After Enduring A Gunshot To The Face

@ajplus / Twitter

In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, a 32-year-old Guatemalan woman recounts her experience fleeing her home country in August 2017 after being shot in the face at a demonstration. Not only does the woman—who goes by the false name Daniella—describe the event that catalyzed her desire to leave Guatemala, but she tells of the many months spent traveling north, and the many months spent in a detention center after reaching the border, separated from her young son.

On August 9, 2017, Daniella and her son, Carlos, were leaving their family’s house when they encountered a large protest against a new measure that would require people to pay for water. At first the protest was peaceful—but then bullets started flying through the air. Daniella and Carlos were just passing through, but a bullet had caught Daniella in two parts of her body: the left arm, and right below the eye.

“I threw my arm around Carlos to protect him—he was covered in blood, and I started to panic,” she told People. “Little did I know that the one bleeding was me.”

Because of rampant corruption in that part of Guatemala, Daniella knew that the police wouldn’t come—they were told not to interfere. So vigilant were certain members of the demonstration that Daniella’s father received a threatening call before she even made it to a hospital. The caller told her father that if they filed a report, he would kill the whole family. Later she learned that the man who had shot her lived just three blocks away from her mother. Fortunately, when she made it to the hospital, her husband—who had moved the the U.S. five years earlier to find work, sent money for the expenses.

After more than a week in the hospital, both bullets remain in Daniella’s body to this day.

“The doctor said that if they were taken out, I could be left in a vegetative state, or I could die,” she said. “To this day I still feel pain.”

After this harrowing experience, Daniella decided that it was time to follow in her husband’s footsteps and flee to the U.S. She knew that the journey would be anything but easy, but she could have never guessed how nightmarish a month lay ahead. Traveling by truck and by bus, there were many nights spent on the side of the road. When they finally made it to the Arizona border, they were not dropped off at an immigration center, as she had expected. Instead, she and Carlos were told to climb a tree, then jump from the tree to the border wall. From there, they could reach the other side.

“I told Carlos, ‘Mijo, you have to jump.’ He was so afraid that he wouldn’t move,” she said. “I looked into my son’s eyes, and I said, ‘Son, please trust me. Everything’s going to be all right.’

After they had both made it safely to the other side, they took just a few steps before the Border Patrol arrived. They were taken into custody and dropped off at “La Hielera”—The Icebox. There, Daniella was forced to sign papers she didn’t understand, and the officer who was present told her that the children would be taken to a shelter, then given up for adoption. Naturally, all the mothers were desperately frightened by this news.

Before leaving for court that same day, Daniella said goodbye to Carlos, unsure if they would ever see each other again. She told People Magazine that she held her son and said: “You’re a champion, Papa, and you’re always going to be in my heart.”

The mothers were not immediately told the whereabouts of their children. But five months after being moved to Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, Daniella learned that Carlos was in a New Jersey foster home.

A few months later, Daniella had her official court hearing. Her bail was posted at $30,000, and after filing an appeal to extend the bail deadline, Daniella was released from custody. She had been detained for 11 months.

The organization Immigrant Families Together had gathered the money for Daniella’s bail, and they helped her get back on her feet by providing her with food and clean clothes. They also took her to the airport to fly to Virginia, where Carlos had relocated to live with his uncle, her brother.

Daniella’s story isn’t unique—roughly 30,000 people are detained in the U.S. on a given day, and these numbers have seen major upticks throughout 2019. What makes Daniella’s story remarkable is her reunion with Carlos. Many families who have been separated at the border are not nearly as lucky.

While she and Carlos continue to deal with the psychological trauma of this experience, Daniella is grateful and focused on the future.

“Without the assistance from all the people that helped me, I wouldn’t be free,” said Daniella. “Now my only focus is my family, my son, starting a new life here in California . . . I don’t have to worry about being shot again or putting my son’s life in danger.”