October 20, 2009
Leaving Zona 9 for Villanueva
From our apartment in zone 9, it was just a few short blocks to the Zona Viva, one of the few places in Guatemala City where foreigners mingle in cafes and sports bars. We also lived close to the nice Parque del Obelisco, and at a convenient distance from the American Embassy. In addition, our apartment was just a twenty minute bus ride from Zone 1, with no traffic.
Zones 9, 10, and 14 are the places most expatriates live, except for the brave few who live in Zone 2, for easy access to downtown (and cheaper rents). These are also the areas where most elite Guatemalans reside. These zones are safer than most, and one has access to nearly everything one could need. Nevertheless, we decided to move to a working class neighborhood, where a friend of ours offered to rent us an apartment. There are many advantages to living in a working class neighborhood in Guatemala City.
Another advantage is the food. First of all, in our new neighborhood, there are three young women who spend all day making fresh tortillas. Each morning, they grind the corn to make the masa. Then, they spend the rest of the day making fresh, hot, delicious tortillas with their hands, meaning we can have these tasty tortillas with each meal. In addition, there are several small stores that sell fresh vegetables, meat, chicken, and fresh baked bread within walking distance. And, of course, there is a large market that has everything one could want for sale, all at the best prices.
I was concerned about moving so far from all of the action. It takes a full hour to get to Zone 1 from Villanueva. It is about a twenty minute ride on a bus, and then another 40 minutes on the Transmetro, the new modern buses that go straight downtown. However, as I only have to go to Zone 1 a couple of times a week, if that, it is not that big of a deal to get on the bus. Plus, bus rides are always fertile ground for the stuff of blogs.