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Barrio Querido, La Reformita

José Antonio Canel

Guatemalan author born in 1953
The chit-chat, an everyday scene of La Reformita

Guatemala City, February 01, 2006/ Narrator and journalist.  He published “Incendio en el Monte de Venus” (“Fire in Venus’ Mount”), a novel.  He was part of the now defunct and irreverent literary group “La Rial Academia”.  He has published articles in Tzolkin (1984-1985) cultural newspaper and in Tinamit magazine (1998-2000).

  Along with his cohorts of “La Rial Academia” he published his works, for many years, in the Sunday editions of Prensa Libre and Siglo Veintiuno newspapers.  He has been writing for Nuestro Diario newspaper since its first days.

La Reformita
by Juan Antonio Canel


Ever since I was a child, every time anybody spoke of La Reformita I would get a “rush of the old times”: overcast skies and metal mugs full of “tortilla” beverage would unlock a stream of memories, love, passion... And today, when I travel through the streets of the old Reformita, I still think that the neighborhood is prehistoric and that, except for its very wide streets, there is little left of the neighborhood where we would buy the best corn moonshine and enjoy it while tantalizing our stomachs with prickly-pear appetizers.  Pavement, like a new conqueror, broke off with one forceful swipe our intimate links with the Cakchiquel scents and the Spanish flavors.

 The neighborhood is one of the few of its kind that can speak of two eras: pre- and post-pavement.  Pavement finished off the puddles where we would encounter toads and frogs and swept away the docks for our paper boats and the dirt mountains that we built for the toy trucks that transported our imaginations to places far beyond our wildest dreams. The pavement also finished off the many “jocotes”, an autochthonous fruit tree, and eliminated the rustic fences of yesteryear. Several empty plots not yet absorbed by modern urbanization suddenly became our paradise lost.

Pavement was, for us children, a total catastrophe. Forty years ago, the smell that arose from the afternoon’s soil would invite us to join family and friends and chat with them around the kitchen hearth while our hearts warmed up to heavenly vegetable broth.


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