Don’t go looking for a ‘merienda’ (snack) in Guatemala. Here, the refacción (refa for short) is king. Refacción is typically enjoyed mid-morning and again in the early afternoon, especially in schools and offices. In fact, the Guatemalan government is required to provide free refacción for students in primary schools. It can take the form of any number of small snacks, but most common are sweet bread, tostadas (large chips covered with beans and cheese or guacamole) or chuchitos, which are small meat-filled pouches of corn dough similar to Mexican tamales. Chuchitos in particular are commonly sold in bus terminals and make for an irresistible travel treat. ‘Refa’ is usually accompanied by a mug of atol or café and is taken very seriously throughout Guatemala – no matter how busy, there is always time for a snack. If you plan to work in Guatemala or stay for an extended period of time, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the ways of refacción.
ICE CREAM AND CHOCOBANANOS
Guatemalans love their frozen treats, known as helados in Spanish. Most are homemade frozen fruit and cream concoctions sold in roadside stores, but the country has a few legitimate options for real ice cream as well. While Sarita ice cream shops are more numerous, don’t discount the increasingly common Nevería. This sleeper pick always has 2×1 deals and will cover your cone in chocolate and various other toppings for a little extra.
One of the best parts of Guatemala is the famous chocobanano, a delicious treat on a hot day – or any day for that matter. This frozen banana on a stick, covered in chocolate, can be found in small stores and is normally advertised simply by a tiny sign that says Hay chocobananos. If you’re feeling adventurous, splurge and have your banana dipped in peanuts – you won’t regret it. In addition to the iconic banana, Guatemalans cover pineapples, strawberries, watermelons, and even frozen bread in chocolate.
Photo Credit: Radio Ranchera