Goodlife People: A Q+A with Diego Argueta From Guanaco To English
Next up, in our #GoodlifePeople Series, we are featuring Diego Argueta from El Salvador. He is the creator of Guanaco to English, an illustrated dictionary that offers a fun and easy way to translate Salvadoran slang into its English meaning! The full Q+A below.
PS… Contact us if you, or someone you know, would like to participate in this series! Enjoy.
Hello, I’m Diego Argueta, a 32-year-old, Salvadoran graphic designer and illustrator. Entrepreneur by nature, designer by profession and illustrator by passion. I specialize in branding and social design, working as brand manager and graphic designer for Glasswing International for more than seven years, leading campaigns and projects regionally. My individual project, Guanaco to English, began in early 2019, combining my social vision and talents, with the purpose of showcasing and improving the image of my country, El Salvador.
Tell us about Guanaco to English, what was the inspiration for the business and the name? When did it start?
Guanaco To English started in January of 2019, but it was created a couple years ago, in 2013 when I was still in college. It was around this time that I went to a design fair in San José, Costa Rica. I remember going to a tour outside of San José and being on a shuttle, in front of me there was this elderly couple with whom I held a conversation throughout the trip. Later on the drive, they asked me where I was from, and I replied proudly “I’m from El Salvador!”, the couple were very surprised and asked “how do you speak English so well?”. That answer was the trigger for me. What is the image that people outside of El Salvador have of my country? Do they really think we are that bad that they are shocked that a young man knows how to speak English? I wanted to change this view, our Salvadoran reputation and the way the world sees us. I wanted to show the world how beautiful, amazing and interesting we really are. So I decided I wanted to do something, a connection between our culture with the rest of the world.
Why did you create Guanaco to English?
I really wanted to prove to the world that El Salvador is much more than violence, corruption, poverty and gangs. There’s culture, beaches, lakes, slang, traditions. I want for Guanaco to English to become the first approach people have of El Salvador.
Where can we get the books?
In El Salvador you can find the dictionaries at Nahanché Metrocentro and Bambú City Center; Mayan Gifts at Centro Histórico, Airport and Metrocentro, and very soon they’ll be available on the web page to ship them to the US.
How many volumes do you have? If so, is there a particular order to start reading them?
There’s two volumes at the moment. There’s no particular order of reading them, although for the first volume, you will find 184 words, which were all gathered by me.
On the second volume, people who had already acquired the first one, began to message me “hey! you’re missing this word” “what about that other word?”, I received more than 200 words and they were all thanks to the Guanaco To English community created on social media. So the second volume, we may say that it was somehow collaborative, done and inspired by all the salvadorans.
This is more a personal question, what would you recommend to others when they visit El Salvador? You can be specific, list restaurants or activities or hotels?
You cannot miss the beaches, although, personally I’m more of a mountain/hiking type of guy, you can’t skip a sunset at the beaches of El Salvador, whether you visit the beaches of the East side of the country (Usulután, San Miguel, La Unión), or you visit one of the most popular beaches, El Tunco and El Zonte. Believe me, you truly must experience a sunset there. Once you are at the beach, you need to try a ceviche or a shrimp cocktail!
If you want to go on a hike, your first challenge has to be the Ilamatepec volcano in Santa Ana, which is the highest peak of our country, but the track is suited for anyone to hike it.
If you could share one message with the world about El Salvador what would it be?
El Salvador is cachimbón! If you don’t know what does that mean, go to page 25 of Guanaco To English, vol. 1
Rapid Fire, Vamos!
One word to describe El Salvador?
One community/town you’d recommend visiting
One of your favorite hotels?
Nawi at Mizata Beach
One of your favorite restaurants?
A Lo Peruano
A local brand you are loving right now?
One item you can’t live without when it comes to your interior space?
Vinyl record player