Monday, May 24, 2010

One More National Bird for the Buck

The quetzal is Guatemala's national bird. It's also Guatemala's national currency. When I was here last in August 2008 the exchange rate was just above Q 7 per greenback. Now it's just above Q 8 per greenback.

If you think Americans were hit hard when the economy tanked in 2008-09, then you can be sure that people in Latin America were hit even harder.

The Atlantis Building, a modern glass and steel structure, was like some microcosm of Chicago or New York when it was new--a sparkling, gleaming edifice of successful capitalism and "development." Twenty two months ago it was an attractive, acclimatized refuge for me from the typical bustle and squalor of Guatemala´s hot humid streets.

Now, although the building is still a convenient place for me to hang my hat for a bit, it's visibly more run down and rougher around the edges (and the air conditioning is history too!), and it's quite clear that some businesses here have fallen victim to recent hard times. Maybe Cubana Airlines was one of them.

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