El Templo de Minerva for which this end of town is named.
I´ve put a ton of miles on the old sneakers (had to buy some powder today to spare my neighbors). Finally made it to the top of Cero Baul, a small mountain within a half hour walk of my home. It doesn´t look like much but it´s a good hour (for me) up a trail of switchbacks and ruts but well worth it for the panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside. A nice park awaits at the top (you can drive as well)with picnic pavillions, bathrooms, statues, monuments, and lots of shade and a fresh breeze.
I made my first visit to the Minerva section of Xela today, a real study in contrasts. My first stop was the Minerva Market, another large open air venue with literally hundreds of vendors selling everything, food, meat, fresh fruit and veggies, clothes, shoes, electronics, hardware, bootleg cd's and dvd's, watches, more loofas, cowboy hats, wonderful smelling prepared food, and much much more. Every one of the vendors wants your $quetzales and will compete, within reason, to earn your business. Is the super center progress?
If your tastes are more refined, a short walk out a lovely but trash strewn tree-lined street brings us to the 21st century. The Pradera Shopping Center is a beautiful modern mall. Need the GNC, Gap, Radio Shack, Taco Bell, Burger King, or Pizza Hut, they're all here along with lots more. La Pradera is anchored by Hiper Paiz the central american Wal Mart, where I picked up some Colgate dental floss, and could of had Herbal Essence shampoo or, well you get the idea. If you're a young, hip Guatamalteca with a dad who's making some decent money in the thriving industrial and commercial endeavors that dot the city, hanging at the mall looks a lot like the USA, except there don´t seem to be any morbidly obese people waddling along with them. A short walk up the street there's another mall with similar fare.
Its definitely not a nanny state here. If you´re not paying attention as you stroll around the city you'll trip over uneven pavers or fall into a 15¨x12"x10" hole in the concrete thats missing a lid. If you should fall in front of a business someone will probably rush out to help you, not because they're afraid of a lawsuit but because they're actually concerned with your well-being. Oh, and you'ld be laughed out of the courtroom not that you'ld find a lawyer willing to take your case. You stepped in a hole? Silly you, you really should watch where you're walking. Consequently the percapita concentration of lawyers is miniscule compared to the good old USA where if you spill hot coffee in your lap you can probably find someone with deep pockets to blame. Haven´t seen any lawyers advertising on tv either. Do you suppose that has anything to do with the lower cost of healthcare?