Monday, February 29, 2016

Music

Because of WiFi, I'm able to listen to my favorite music here in Guatemala. Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole are some of my favorite singers.

Mostly I tune into music using YouTube. But I use YouTube to listen to sleep sounds too. When there is noise outside at nite, when I want to sleep, sounds like falling rain keep me from waking up.  :)

Fried chicken
12:30pm - I'm at Ricassoli and have ordered fried chicken for lunch. Comes with soup, sweet potato fries, sautéed vegetables and fresh veggie salad.
[45Quetzales $6.10US]

One thing I like about this restaurant, is that the tables are above, and look down at Avenida Santander. Very good for people watching.

At this time, young people are returning home from school. Many of the boys grease their hair in order to style it. Many of these students have enough money to buy treats, ice cream, snow cones. Some young people are riding home in a Tuk Tuk taxi!

Afternoon Matinee
And I am able to watch this fabulous movie here in Panajachel, Guatemala


Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Staring William Holden and Alec Guiness
Winner of 7 Oscars

"A British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it."



Garnachas again
7pm - For supper tonite I went back to the same garnachas lady as last nite.

Then, for dessert I bought Quaker Oatmeal Cookies and a little strawberry ice cream sundae at the little grocery near my hotel.






Sunday, February 28, 2016

Panqueques

11:30am - I'm at Mr. Jons again. Because of their "panqueques." Here in Guatemala, pancakes are pronounced "pahn-kah-cays."

I feel a bit badly that I am blogging to you mostly about where I am going out to eat. But, what I am doing here in Panajachel is mostly going out to eat.

That does not mean that I am not having a good time just being here in this foreign land. I love just being here. It is really great for me to simply eat out and observe what goes on in Panajachel each day.


Is restaurant tipping voluntary?
1pm - Not here in the Town of Panajachel. My check at Mr. Jon's had 6% added.

Not that I mind having 6% added. Because I usually add 20% for a tip.


Garnachas
7pm - Every day since arriving in Panajachel, I've watched a lady street vendor selling what appear to be very small tostadas. Her stand is on Avenida Santader, right near the 3-way intersection. A very good location!

This evening I decided to eat Garnachas for my supper. The price is 3-garnachas for 10 Quetzales [$1.30US]

Being cautions, I ordered one garnacha. Then another. Then the 3rd one. These things are good!

Garnachas on the grill

Garnacha vendor



Saturday, February 27, 2016

HTML code

When I first began blogging in May, 2003, I wrote the HTML code for my blog. Google had purchased Blogger in February, 2003, and Blogger at that time was very rough. Nothing like the smooth program that Blogger is now.

In order to get my blog to have "page turning" links [from one day to the next day], I would manually insert those links when I published my blog.

Years later, when Blogger had its own page turning links, I converted over to the blogger system. However, my old HTML page links still remained. And those links looked very ugly.

Lately, I have been going back in my blog to remove the HTML code that created those links. It's a slow job. But I am a patient guy.


Restaurante Paris Paris
12:30pm - Today I wanted to eat at a restaurant where I had not eaten before. I chose a pleasant looking open-air place named, Paris Paris.

I've ordered "fried fish". With the fish came sautéed vegetables, white rice, guacamole. [30 Quetzales $4.05US]

View from my table at Paris Paris


No begging
I've not seen anybody begging for money since I arrived in Panajachel. There are a ton of people trying to earn a living selling stuff.

Since I began eating my lunch, about 12 boys came by to shine my shoes. A couple of dozen people showed me indigenous craft items. A few ladies were selling woven cloth things.

A popular item to sell is a glass bead hummingbird. All these hummers look like they were made by the same person.





Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken Friday

1:30pm - Today I went to Centro Comedor for a chicken lunch. I've written to you that I like that place for their chicken. Great taste and very inexpensive too. [13Q=1.75US]

Right now I am sipping fresh orange juice at Ricassoli Pizza and Steak House. All over Panajachel the orange juice is high quality. Definitely made fresh from real oranges. This orange juice has a wonderful taste!


 Chef Alex
8pm - There is driveway just across from the "Y" intersection at the head of Avenida Santander. On Fridays and Saturdays, this driveway transforms into a restaurant named, "Chef Alex".

At the beginning of the driveway is placed a charcoal burning BBQ.  The restaurant's kitchen comes next. Then, the tables and chairs for customers.

I ordered a pork chop plate which included baked corn tortillas, frijoles, grilled scallions, guacamole and a Pepsi [25Q $3.40US].

View  of kitchen and charcoal grill 


Charcoal grill


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mr. Jon's Breakfast

10:30am - Just down Avenida Santander from Cafe Kische, is Mr. Jon's. I decided to go to Mr. Jon's for breakfast this morning instead of to the coffee klatch. I was not participating in the conversation at the klatch anyway.

I have a hunch that Mr. Jon's is owned by an American, because the menu looks like it came from the USA.


Campero
6:30pm - Today I stayed in my room a lot to watch movies on NetFlix. Don't know why? Just felt like kicking back.

Now I am at the Campero fried chicken place, which is just around the corner from my hotel street. I'm getting a fried chicken meal.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How about the weather?

9:30am - Looking out from my table at Cafe Kitsch, up close is the hustle of Avenida Santander. Looking high, are the hills that look over Panajachel and Lake Atitlán.

Thru all of these views, is the lovely weather, the perfect temperature of this place. Lake Atitlán is at an elevation of 1,562 meters [5,124 feet]. Apparently, this elevation produces what to me is a perfect place to live, weather-wise.

Right now, two shoe shine boys are hitting me up for a shine. I explain that I do not need my shoes shined every day. But that answer does not please either of them very much.

View from Cafe Kitsch


Manuela
11:30am - I've seen Manuela selling on Avenida Santander many times. Yesterday on visiting the Pueblo of Santa Caterina, I learned that Manuela lives there.

Manuela is a very unusual street seller. She is unusual because of her smile. There is always a smile on Manuela's face. Also, Manuela never ever gets tired approaching prospects. She makes an approach on every person she meets.

A little while ago I watched as two ladies appeared to be buying some of Manuela's weaving. After the purchase was made, I asked these two ladies what they would be doing with the weaving? "We will both place them as table covers in our homes.", replied these women from the Dominican Republic.

Manuela selling on Avenida Santander



27A Burger Joint
6pm - Ever since arriving in Panajachel, I've been wanting a really good hamburger. A couple of days ago, one of the coffee klatch guys at Cafe Kitsch suggested "27A Burger Joint."

It took me awhile just to figure out where 27A was located. And after I'd found it, it turned out the place was not open on Tuesday. So, here I am back for a burger this evening.


Very good burger!




Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Guys talking

10am - In the pic below, are a bunch of guys talking. These guys gather here at Cafe Kitsch every morning at about 9:30am.

It's sort of a challenge for me to engage in the conversations. There are always a couple of the men talking. And my hearing gets messed up a bit, when there are competing sounds for my ears.

In a question to Andy Graham [http://www.hobotraveler.com/], I asked if there are morning conversations like this in most other countries where he traveled. I'm not sure if Andy gave me an answer or not. I am reluctant to ask Andy, "Huh? What did you say?"

A bunch of guys talking


Santa Caterina
11:30am - Andy told me, "I'm going  to Santa Caterina to look for Jamaica Flowers." I asked him, "Do you want company?"

We decided to go to Santa Caterina on a Tuk Tuk. And return on the pick-up truck transport.

Santa Catarina is the next village over from Panajachel [going clockwise]. Most of the street sellers in Pana live in Santa Catarina. It's a small village. Andy and I walked from one end to the other in about 15 minutes.

Fare on a Tuk Tuk is 50 Quetzales. Via truck, 3 Quetzales. [1Q=0.135US]

We did not find any Jamaica flowers in Santa Caterina!

Jamaica or Hibiscus flower

Hibiscus at Hotel El Amigo!
1:30pm - As I was entering Hotel El Amigo, I was sooooo surprised to see a large Hibiscus plant, loaded with flowers, growing in the hotel's front yard.

Jamaica or Hibiscus 
[View from my 2nd floor room balcony] 


Monday, February 22, 2016

Lavanderia

8am - It may seem like an inconsequential thing, but I wanted to receive my pajamas back from the lavanderia this afternoon. The word "lavanderia" in Spanish is "laundry" in English.

Almost all of the clothing that I brought with me to Guatemala, was now in my dirty clothing bag. Including my pajamas. Call me picky, but I don't like going to bed without pajamas on.

So, I arrived at the lavanderia this morning at 8am. I am the very first customer. "Is it possible to receive my laundry back this afternoon?", I asked. "Sure!", was the reply.

Happy I am!

Lazzarini Pizza
11:30am - I am at Lazzarini Pizza for breakfast. When I first arrived at Panajachel, it seemed to me that only a few of the lunch and supper restaurants also offered breakfast.

However, now nearly all of them have large breakfast menu boards on the street in front of their buildings. And many of these menu boards copy the others, word for word!

I have ordered the "American Breakfast." [2 eggs any style, bacon, English Muffin or toast, potatoes]

Breakfast at Lazzaroni


Shoe shine
1pm - There may be as many as 30 shoe shine boys on Avenida Santander in the Town of Panajachel. This means that I am very often saying "No" to their question of, "Shine?"

I do not know what gets me to say, "Yes!" to one boy over another. But some of these boys work very hard. I can tell by looking at their very stained hands. Also, the successful shine boys always carry enough money to make change!

Shining shoes in Panajachel


Carrot cake
1:30pm - I walked back up Avenida Santander to Cafe Kitsch for a piece of their carrot cake. Their carrot cake is very good! Moist, with a delicious frosting.

I almost missed taking a pic of my carrot cake. Because I'd taken a forkful before snapping the pic. But I "stitched" the piece of cake back.

Carrot cake at Cafe Kitsch


Pasta
7:30pm - I have returned to Lazararini's because I have had really good pastas here. I do not know what is up here this evening. But Lazarini has three large groups. It's a good thing that I ordered when I did, or I might not get my pasta for a long time!

I have ordered Fettuccine Dagony. I have no idea what or if "Dagony" means something in Italian. I hope that it is not a mis-spelling of "agony!"

The pasta comes with garlic bread, which I really like a lot.

Fettuccine with a ton of shrimp


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cafe Kitsch kitchen

10:30am - Over the last few days I learned that Cafe Kitsch serves other things besides all kinds of coffee drinks. So, today I asked if they prepared a cut-up fruit plate. They did! So, I ordered a cut-up fruit plate with my American coffee.

The morning coffee klatch lasts 1-2 hours. Then the people drift off. That's when I use the Cafe Kitsch WiFi to make a blog post.

Pushy shoe shine boys
11am - I mentioned to others at the coffee klatch, that most of the shoe shine boys cave in after only asking me once if I want a shine. Being that I have experience in sales, I have learned that it takes more than one attempt to close to make a sale.

But that does not mean that a shoe shine boy should ask the same question, over and over again.

One shoe shine boy just tried this close: "Please let me shine your shoes. I need food."

Wow! Strong close!

Living in Guatemala
2:30pm - I am not not sure if I wrote to you before about what I am doing here in the Town of Panajachel, Guatemala. But if I did, it is likely worth writing again.

I am here to simply live in this foreign place. Not to tour. I've already done that. But just to be here, and enjoy daily life here.

Often I stand at the side of a road, and just observe. Or do the same kind of observing while enjoying lunch or supper. It is thrilling for me to do this. Because I am doing it here, far away from home. Not rushed. Simply here.


My friend Panchito
Do you remember my friend, Panchito? I knew him for several years. That was when I lived in the Pueblo of Santillan  [State of Queretaro, Mexico].

Panchito and his father, Don Pancho, co-owned a large, very successful body shop. Father and son were both murdered while they slept inside that body shop. That was in August, 2013.

Just a little while ago, I was online with Google Map looking at the street view of the body shop. I was astounded to see in the street view, none other Panchito himself, talking to a customer at the entrance to the body shop!

Apparently, just when the Google street view camera drove by, Panchito was standing in his driveway and got captured in the pic! Remarkable!!

My blog story about that terrible day may be read by clicking [here].





Saturday, February 20, 2016

Coffee Klatch

9:30am - A few days ago, I became aware that a Coffee Klatch was taking place each morning at this time of day at Cafe Kitsch.

Before then, I was not aware exactly what was the definition of "Coffee Klatch." So, I looked it up online.

Coffee Klatch: "A social occasion where people have conversations about unimportant things."

I don't accept that definition for what I myself am doing at these coffee drinking get togethers. My conversations are never about unimportant things. Even though what I may be doing, is talking about various, sometimes unrelated things.

It seems to me that if my brain is engaged in the conversation, and I am actively listening to whom I am talking, then the topic is important.

Being polite
12 noon - Breakfast at Ricassoli.

I wear leather boots. My leather boots attract the attention of shoe shine boys here in Panajachel. I expect for shoe shine boys to ask me for permission to shine my shoes. Even here at my table at Ricassoli.

However, some shoe shine boys become more than a bit aggressive when they do not receive an "OK" from me. That aggression I do not expect and do not tolerate. I expect anybody who is trying to sell me something, to be polite.


Video interview
5:30pm - Andy Graham [hobotraveler.com] asked me to be interviewed about my going to Guatemala. I really enjoy the idea of being interviewed. So, of course I agreed! :)

We took a Tuk Tuk taxi down to the embarcadero [dock where the ferry launches tie up]. Andy set up his video camera in a restaurant where there was a nice table. The interview went smooth!

What a good time!

View of embarcadero from the restaurant


Parrillada Santander
7:30pm - Well, it is Saturday evening. Time to be out on the town! But I didn't want to go out to eat at a place that I'd eaten at before.

You want to know something? I am suspicious of restaurants where there are no customers already at tables. But this place where I am at now, had a nice menu. So I went in. I was the only customer.

About 5 minutes after being seated, four more tables were filled! Apparently, my being seated, got other people comfortable about coming to eat here too!


My shrimp supper



Friday, February 19, 2016

Lake Atitlán - 2nd look

Last nite I reviewed each of the Lake Atitlán information sites that I linked to in yesterday's blog. One of these sites, on 2nd look, seem to offer the most potential for success. Here is that site again:
As I wrote yesterday. I was looking to find a website that would provide a plan that had some potential for success. Also a site which offered a way for persons who wish to donate, a way to make their donation.

Guajimbos
12 Noon - Remember a couple of days ago I went to Restaurante Tuscani and ordered a steak? And remember that steak turned out terrible?

Then, the next day I wanted to go to Guajimbos for steak, because I read on the net that their steak was wonderful. That was on Thursday. But it turned out that Guajimbos closes on Thursday! Bummer!

Well, now I am back at Guajimbos. My waitress assures me their Filet Mignon is spectacular. And being the trusting soul that I am, I believe her!


The steak was not bad. About 7* on a scale of 10*.

I was surprised that the steak was covered with a mushroom sauce. Although if I would have bothered to closely read the menu's description, I would have known.

Napping
2pm - Back at my Hotel El Amigo room for a nap. Well, that's what us older folks do a lot. Take naps!

Walking for steps
7:30pm - I'm out walking for steps on Avenida Santander. So far I have 4,124 steps on the way to 6,500+.

I bought myself a chocolate ice cream sundae at the Sarita Ice Cream store across the road from Restaurante Tuscani. My computer has used Tuscani's WiFi before. So, I'm online this evening even though I'm inside the Sarita store.

 I bought the ice cream sundae not because I was hungry. But, it is Friday nite! I gotta buy something to eat.

Avenida Santander is special
I don't know why Avenida Santander is special, but it is! There is something about this stretch of road. It's probably the shops, and places to eat. Also, there are lots of tourists here all the time.

And of course, the constant stream of Tuk Tuk taxis adds to the mystique of Avenida Santander.

View from my table at Sarita looking at Restaurante Tuscani


Step record
Here is my step record for the past week:

8,625  6,091  5,771  7,016  7,458  4,386  6,088
Sat      Sun     Mon    Tue     Wed   Thu     Fri







Thursday, February 18, 2016

Save Lake Atitlán

As you may know, I am staying in Panajachel, a town on the northeastern shore of Lake Atitlán. The water of Lake Atitlán is a closed system. A huge volcanic eruption created the caldera which contains the water which forms the lake.

Nothing flows out of Lake Atitlán. Any human waste and garbage that drains into the lake remains in the water. For all time. It never, ever leaves!

What is being done?
I am pretty good at doing research on the internet. I've got years of experience. I was "online" before the internet was invented. I was online, during the time of CompUServe for goodness sakes!

Yet with all of my experience at using online resources, I am unable to find a single, active, working entity that is actually doing something to save Lake Atitlán.

All I find are bullshit words!

Here is what I have found:
  • Lake Atitlán Cynobacteria Information [link]
  • Friends of Lake Atitlán [link]
  • Planeterra Foundation [link]
  • Christian Science Monitor [link]

What did I expect to find?
When I began to search this morning, I thought that I would find some organization to whom I would send donations. Some organization that is "in the news!" An active organization that is actually accomplishing something.

If that organization is there, and I just missed it, please let me know!

gershonbendaniel at gmail.com


Guajimbos
11:30am - I am off for lunch at Guajimbos on Avenida Santander. I'm going to Guajimbos for a steak. However, I confess that I am not hungry enough for a steak meal. I'm going for steak again because the steak that I ate yesterday evening at Restaurante Tuscani was so bad!

I was surprised to find the doors to Guajimbos closed and locked. Perhaps Guajimbos does not open on Thursday?

Sarita Ice Cream
2:30pm - After walking around Ave Santander for awhile, I decided to treat myself to a strawberry ice cream sundae. Not the same as a steak meal. But maybe ice cream is even better than steak!

Chicken at Comedor Central
3:30pm - When I got all the way back up to the head of Avenida Santander, I was just across from Comedor Central. That's when I began to compare the Comedor's chicken and tortilla meal with Guajimbos steak meal.

Comedor won! That's because I could not possibly eat an entire steak meal this afternoon.

Reader John Simmonds
Info about Lake Atitlán
5pm - I received an email from Reader John Simmonds who provided a link to an online story about Lake Atitlán. Click on link below.

Scientists and students working to conserve
Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán [link]
.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

American street seller

11am - I am eating breakfast at Ricassoli. On the street in front of the restaurant, an American has set up a business selling rocks and rocks made into jewelry.

I asked him if he had to obtain a permit to do this business here in Panajachel. "No", he told me. I'm going to ask other street vendors the same question.

Can anybody sell stuff here?

Embarcadero
1:30pm - I've strolled down to the embarcadero. That's where the ferry boats tie up. The ferrying business to me looks terrible! If business is terrible for the ferry boats, it must be a disaster in the smaller lake shore towns.

El Mirador
2pm - I'm at a lake view table in El Mirador Restaurante. I am one of only two customers in this restaurant which has perhaps 80 tables.

I've ordered a "naranjada" [orange juice+water+ice]. I'm using El Mirador's WiFi to post to you.

The lack of business here at El Mirador has got me to wondering what is "the thing" that puts the match to worldwide prosperity? And it comes to me that when things are good for workers in the United States, things tend to be good all over the planet. It's the dribble down economic idea.

Maybe when the geniuses dreamed up exporting American jobs and the stupid mortgage thing, they actually shot themselves in the foot.

Way down that economic line, the result is empty ferry boats here at the Panajachel Embarcadero.

Ferry boats at Embarcadero Panajachel


Coffee with Andy
6:30pm - I had not met with Andy [HoboTraveler.com] for a couple of days. So, I sent him an email. Immediately I received and email back. And we met for coffee at Cafe Kitsch.

I get a kick talking with Andy. He is a very interesting person!

Restaurante Tuscani
8pm - Ever since I first ate supper at Restaurante Tuscani last week, I wanted to return. This place makes really great food. And I like the atmosphere!

Last time here, I ordered pasta. Wonderful raviolis! This time I went for their Rib Eye Steak. I have not eaten any steak since arriving in Guatemala.

When my steak arrived, it appeared to be a great steak! However, when it came to the eating, not nearly as good as the looks.

Taste, less than good. Toughness, not so good either. So, the best part of this rib eye steak was its look!

Good looking, but not good eating steak


Shops close up early
9:30pm - Instead of riding back to Hotel El Amigo in a Tuk Tuk, I decided to walk. Because I was close to my 6500 steps per day goal.

The shops along Avenida Santander close earlier than I had imagined. And that closing made my walk a bit ominous.

However, nothing unusual happened during my walk. And the locals that I saw walking, did not appear to be concerned with their safety.


.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tribute to Chip

Did you follow my Tioga and George blog during the times we spent in the Town of Aticama? That's in the State of Nayarit, Mexico. If so, then you may recall our adventures with The Flyboys who also stayed in Aticama during several winters.

This post is a tribute to one of the Flyboys. His name, Chip Henly. Over the period of winters that I spent time with Chip, he took me on some remarkable flying adventures. One spectacular adventure/flight, was our flight to the mysterious town of Mexcaltitán.

Flyboy Chip Henly [Dec 2009]

While reading "The Golden Years" blog of my friends, Carol and Bill, I learned that Chip Henly had passed on about a year ago. Cancer got Chip. So, I am putting online this Tribute to Chip.

Chip took me on an exploration flight on March 12, 2009. Using Chip's ultra-light aircraft, we went north from Aticama looking for Mexcaltitán. And we found it!

You may share that day with Chip, by clicking [here].

Sunset Cafe
12:15pm - I planned to eat lunch today at Restaurante Tuscani. Apparently Tuscani does not open for lunch today. A little closer to the lake, is Sunset Cafe. I'd read good things about Sunset. So, I went down there.

I ordered chicken fajitas, which were OK.

Cafe Kitsch
2pm - I walked up to Cafe Kitsch for their carrot cake and WiFi. After Cafe Kitsch, I'll may return to my room for a nap.

Pretty good life, huh?


Nap time
3pm - Back at my Hotel El Amigo room for a nice nap. I don't know why? But I really need a nap this afternoon!

Central Comedor
6:30pm - I've been choosing Central Comedor for supper a lot lately. Not because the food is very inexpensive, which it is. But because the chicken really tastes great! And the tortillas are so good and fresh too!

I get a kick out of watching the young women making the tortillas!

Grilled chicken and fresh tortillas

Sarita sundae
7pm - Just up the street from Central Comedor is the Sarita ice cream store. It's a lot like Baskin-Robbins except fewer flavors.

I like their strawberry sundaes!

Strawberry Sundae
(I already took two bites!)




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Monday, February 15, 2016

Online travel agents

Never use an online travel agent to book a hotel room. Because these agents NEVER tell you the truth.

Worse than not telling the truth. Online agents will lie to you deliberately and tell you that a low cost available room is NOT available.

Online travel agents rely on a traveler's insecurity. Most travelers are sure that if they do not have all their hotel arrangements booked, they will wind up sleeping on a park bench.

When I arrive at a destination city, and want to find a hotel room, I use an experienced taxi driver. I interview taxi drivers to locate the one that I want. The taxi driver that I want to use will have around 10 years experience. And when I tell the driver what I want to do, he shows confidence that he is able to do it.

I tell my chosen taxi driver how much I want to pay, and he will drive me around to find a room. When we arrive at a hotel, I go inside to check things out while my taxi driver waits for me.

Hurt foot
9am - When I got out of bed this morning, and began to walk on my hurt foot, I was sooooo happy to find that I am able to walk half way decent!

There still is pain in the same place on my left foot. But the pain's intensity is greatly reduced. Thank God!

Off in Guatemala on an extended stay is the wrong place to have foot problems!


School buses
12 Noon - Central Comedor is the name of the restaurant where I am eating lunch. Comedor is Spanish for a place that serves cheap priced food. Even though prices are very low, the food that I eat here tastes great. Grilled chicken with corn tortillas is what I order. 12Q [$1.56US]

Three young women are employed here in the production of corn tortillas. And these tortillas are good tasting too! Tortilla customers walk up steadily all day long to buy a dozen to several dozen.

I always sit at the front table, nearest the street. From here I can view the traffic and people going by. I am especially fascinated with the number of former school buses here in Panajachel.

These former school buses are now employed as people buses. Many buses still have the painted signs identifying which school district in the United States owned them. Some simply retain the words, "School Bus."





Pistachio nuts
4pm - I caught a Tuk Tuk to take me to El Mercado to buy a pound of pistachio nuts. When I found a seller who had pistachios, he quoted 80Quetazles per pound. [$10US]

I don't know the price for pictachios, so I should have made a counter offer. For some reason that I do not understand, I took the opening price. So now I don't know if I overpaid!

They are good quality.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine

HeartCandy

Will you be my Valentine?



Created a desk
My hotel room has no desk or table. I had not considered until now, how convenient and useful is a desk!

I converted one of the bed cabinets in my room into a desk. Now I have a place for the MacBook. And a place to put a plate for eating.

I wanted to take a pic of this scene for my memories.

Another view of my room at Hotel El Amigo

Ricasolli breakfast
11am - I'm doing breakfast at Ricasolli again. It seems that I am leaving my hotel room towards the end of the morning lately.

Could it be that I'm adapting to life in Guatemala? Hmmmm?


Upstairs potty
1:30pm - I'm online at Cafe Kitsch after using the upstairs potty. Thank God for that toilet!

I am happy to let you know that my medication is working very well. No more diar*hea! I continue to eat the same things as before. So, it was probably a case of changing environment. California to Guatemala.

Walking for health
I am averaging way over my goal of 6500 steps/day. BTW, 6500 steps is equal to about 2.4 miles.

I am NOT nearly as consistent with going to Pana Gym. I got sick right after joining the gym. And have not felt like returning yet.


I am hurt!
3pm - Returning to my hotel room to rest and take a shower, I noticed a pain beginning at the outside of my left foot. Over the next hour, this pain intensified.

Now I am reduced to hobbling, instead of walking. Oh lord! I hate when something like this happens. Messing with my plans!

I find that only without my shoes am I hobbling. With my shoes on, I am only limping.



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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Apples

11am - Yesterday when I wandered thru the Mercado [market] in Panajachel, I was sure that I would find some apples for sale. I had been looking for apples since I arrived in Guatemala on February 1st.

Just now I found out about Guatemala apples. Growing season is March thru November.

However, I am definitely getting my supply of fruits here in Panajachel. From the many cut fruit sellers along the main roads thru Pana. Just no apples.


Cafe Kitsch
Noon - On the way to Cafe Kitsch, I bought a bag of mixed fruit. Strawberries, cantaloupe, mangos, watermelon.

I was guessing that my sickness might be from eating the cut fruit here in Pana. But now I do not believe that is likely to be the case. If people were getting sick from eating one seller's fruit, that seller would soon be out of business.

More likely, this sickness comes from my period of adjustment to the environment of Guatemala. I have taken two doses of the medication that I bought yesterday. So far....so good!

Front corner is the fruit bag I bought

High view pic
After walking around Pana for awhile, I found that I had accumulated over 4,000 steps. Turning around, I headed back to my room.

On the way, there is a drinking place on the 2nd floor, just above Cafe Kitsch. I went up there for a look-see.

That's when I captured a nice high view pic looking toward the big intersection of Calle Principal and Avenida Santandar.


Principle & Santender



Note: The intersection pic above may be clicked twice to super enlarge.


Hot dogs
7pm - There is only one hot dog stand in the downtown section of Panajachel. And I don't know why?

For about three years, after I first began RVing, I lived in the Town of Santa Rosalia on the western shore of the Gulf of California. In Santa Rosalia there were two competing hot dog stands. And the hot dogs that were sold at these stands were spectacular!

The dogs were wrapped in bacon and cooked until the dog was on the black side of darkness. I do not know what they did to those dogs? But there were always large crowds of customers on the weekends. And I loved those dogs. Was addicted to them!

The hot dog that I ate this evening here in Panajachel, did not do anything special for me. Whatever was the magic of Santa Rosalia's hot dogs did not make it down to Guatemala.


iPhone clock
I received an app named "Nite Time" for use on my iPhone. This app is a clock with highly visible red numbers. Ordered free from iTunes.

Nite Time is able to run all nite long without running down iPhone's battery.


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Friday, February 12, 2016

Exercise

I'm being pretty conscientious with my Guatemala exercise program. It consists of two things.
  • Walking around Panajachel a minimum of 6,500 steps daily
  • Strength exercises at Pana Gym
The walking part gets done half in the morning, and the rest in the afternoon. I've been struggling a bit with walking that far for the last few days. That's because I developed a digestion and potty problem. Took all my energy!

But that's all gone now, and I feel real good again. 


Andy Graham-Hobo Traveler
11:30am - I was standing just across from the entrance to Callejon Santa Elena [my hotel street], when strolling down Principal road came Andy Graham of Hobo Traveler fame.

"Do you want to see where you may buy salted peanuts for 8 Quetzales per pound?", asked Andy.

We caught a Tuk Tuk taxi which took us uphill along Calle Principal. Soon we came upon the Mercado [municipal market]. We walked along the isles of the Mercado until we came to the nut seller, way at the far end of the building.

"How much for salted peanuts?", I asked. "9 Quetzales," the lady nut seller told me.

Over the past three days I have overpaid for peanuts.

The street nut sellers are charging 10Q per oz which equals 160Q/lb. That equals $21US/lb.

Here at the Mercado, I am paying only 9Q/lb [$1.17US]. I believe that the price should be whatever the traffic will bear. But these street sellers refuse to bargain. And one of them got pissed off at me when I offered 3Q/oz [.39US] for nuts that he paid only 7 cents/oz US.

Toilet paper
2pm - If you know only one thing, that thing must be to carry toilet paper in your pack at all times!

I had just bought a cup of coffee and a nice looking piece of carrot cake at Cafe Kitsch, a covered outdoor place at the head of Avenida Santander. Suddenly I felt that terrible call. But I knew of an open toilet just upstairs!

Oh how happy is a person to get to a baño on time! Fortunately, I had a roll of toilet paper in my backpack!

After that messy bathroom experience, I returned to my hotel room to take a shower. I am still a bit sick. Got a ways to go before returning to normal.


Tuscani Restaurante
6pm - I am sitting in the Restaurante Tuscani at an intimate table. A candle has been set on my table. Tuscani consists of one small room. There are only six small tables. For atmosphere, the light inside is low. There is definitely atmosphere here!

I've ordered cheese raviolis in a cream sauce which is served to me with garlic toast. The food is very good!

Restaurante Tuscani

My table is the one with my hat

Paper napkins
There is an extraordinary amount of value placed on paper napkins. However, the actual value of the class of paper napkin commonly used in Panacachel is likely only a fraction of a US cent.

The people working in restaurants dispense these paper napkins with such care. Not too many to any one customer!

Speaking from my experience as an owner of three fast food places over a 13 year period, I don't get it?

Pharmacy
8pm - I am back in at my Hotel El Amigo. On the way here, at the suggestion of three reader's comments, I bought medication for my diarrhea.

It's called, enterovid [Nifuroxazida 400mg]. I checked it out in a Google search. Looks good.



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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Button sewing

10am - Does it seem odd that I am blogging about sewing on a button during my trip to Guatemala? It's not odd to me, for two reasons.

One is that I am proud of my button sewing skill. And I enjoy sewing and enjoy writing about it to you. When I am on a trip, I always have a small [but complete] sewing kit with me.

Second, is that I do not consider what I am doing in Guatemala any different than just living at Guava Gardens. Well, it is different because I am in a foreign country. But other than that, I am just doing things here that I would do if I were back home.

Laundry
11am - There is a laundry service close to the three-way intersection on Avenida Santander. The service is on the second floor. When I run out of clean underwear, I take whatever I've accumulated to have it washed.

I don't believe that I have seen self-serve laundries here in Guatemala. 

Ricasoli
11:30am - I've come to Ricasoli because the breakfast they make here is very good, and only for 20 Quetzales [$2.60US].

I took a pic of Ricasoli's menu board standing out front to show you. But the pic is being stubborn about transferring from iPhone to MacBook!

Note: Whoops! The pic just transferred. I don't know why sometimes the pic transfers right away, and sometimes not!

20 Quetzal Breakfast Board


Using Photos App
Does anybody understand how to use Photos App on iPhone to copy to the Photos App on MacBook?


Traveler's sickness
Yesterday as I walked thru Panajachel, I got sooooo tired! I was thinking of catching a Tuk Tuk taxi. However, I was able to walk all the way back to my hotel. But I had to stop many times along the way to rest!

Later on yesterday afternoon, I had a problem in the bathroom. Diarrhea! But it was not too bad. Today my energy has recovered a great deal. But not completely. So now I have returned to my room in order to rest.

Shoe shine man
During my morning walk today, perhaps 10 shoe shine boys hit me up for some work. I refused. Because just yesterday, one of these boys had shined my shoes.

I had seen an old man shoe shine guy around town before, but he never hit me up. Today he did. And I gave him the work. As he shined my shoes, I saw that one of his hands was disabled. Nevertheless, he used that hand a little while shining my shoes.

He asked for 6 Quetzales. I paid him 10Q [$1.30US].


PS: Later on I saw the shoe shine man sitting on a curb alongside Avenida Santander. He had his wallet open. He was counting his money.

There were a lot of bills inside his wallet. Yet, there he was, his wallet open, for anybody passing by to see.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Guava Gardens vs Hotel El Amigo

What is the difference between living in my apartment at Guava Gardens, and my hotel room at Hotel El Amigo?

Well, for one thing, Guava Gardens is in the United States. Hotel El Amigo is in Guatemala.

Another difference, is rent. Guava Gardens costs $725/month. Hotel El Amigo costs $208/month.

Guava Gardens has a bathroom with a shower/bath tub. In the livingroom I have a LaZboy recliner. A heater/air conditioner. On the balcony, I have gorgeous blooming Impatien flowers of many colors. I have a full kitchen. Mariner, my electric bike is there.

Hotel El Amigo has a shower only, no bath tub. There is no living room. No heater/air conditioner. I have a balcony which could have gorgeous flowers of many colors. I could use the hotel's kitchen on the 1st floor. I don't need a bike because everything in Panajachel is within walking distance.

Guava Gardens has Kaiser Permanente [my health care provider] nearby.

Bottom line
So, if I wanted to make a choice, which would I choose? Guava Gardens or Hotel El Amigo?

Guava Gardens! No doubt about it. Even if I owned a little home here in the Town of Panajachel, I would still choose Guava Gardens! For me, the City of La Mesa in California is the best!

PS: However, the Town of Panajachel in Guatemala is a nice place to visit though! And Hotel El Amigo is a great place to stay during a visit!


Guajimbo's
12 Noon - This restaurant is a tourist hangout. That was clear from viewing the customers eating here. Tourists are comfortable in a certain atmosphere. And Guajimbo's definitely has it.

I ordered Pescado Tilapia al Ajo [filet of fish with garlic]. The meal arrived with boiled potatoes, sauteed carrots and squash, garlic bread. 70Q [$9.10US]

The fish was good!

Tourists at Guajimbo's

Girl nut seller
Across the street from my table at Guajimbo's, was the same girl nut seller that yesterday gave me a price of 10Q for 1 oz salted unshelled peanuts. This was a gigantic over charge! [$20.80US/Lb]

She knew that I recognized her. And she hid behind a wood wall. Probably embarrassed. Every time I tried to take her pic, she would duck out of sight again.

The pic is not sharp because I had to zoom in from my table at Guajimbo's.

High priced girl nut seller

Sunset Cafe
3pm - I walked down close to Lake Atitlan and found Sunset Cafe. Inside was a pleasant palm shaded setting. Would be silent at this hour, except for the music.

I took a small table and ordered a Coca Cola with a glass of ice. Off in the distance is an active volcano. Steam constantly rising.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

No heaters

People who live in Guatemala, hardly ever install room heaters into their homes. There may be a little discomfort during winter. But Guatemalans are hardly aware of that.

However, I am a Californian. When I am home in Guava Gardens, I go over to adjust my heater all the time. Doesn't matter if it is 70°F, I'll likely raise it to 72°F.

Why am I writing about heaters this morning? Because it is 57°F outside in Panajachel.

Mixed fruit and coffee
11:30am - I'm having a cup of coffee at Ricasoli in order to use the WiFi. Also to watch people walking by. On the way here, I bought a little plastic bag of mixed fruit from the lady fruit seller located near my hotel, on the main road thru town.

The last time that I ate at Ricasoli, I was served a bowl of vegetable soup with my supper. I asked what kind of soup they have today? "Cream of broccoli", the lady in the kitchen told me.

I ordered a small bowl.


Healthy eating
Since arriving in the Town of Panajachel, I believe that I am eating healthier than I ate at my home in La Mesa, California. My breakfasts are especially more healthy because of the mixed fruit.

I am planning to adopt the same idea of eating what locals eat for my supper too. Soft tacos filled with perhaps BBQ chicken and vegetables.


Slow day
Avenida Santander, the street with most of Panajachel's shops and restaurants, is usually very busy around noon. Today, it's different. There is no steady line of Tuk Tuk taxis.

What are shoppers doing this afternoon?

Avenida Santander on a slow Tuesday afternoon


Price for peanuts?
How much should I pay for an ounce of peanuts from a street vendor?

Pollo Campero
5pm - Pollo Campero is a fried chicken place. Sorta like KFC. I ate at Pollo Campero just yesterday. And here I am again! Their fried chicken breast is really good!

There is a hot spot at Pollo Campero. I am making this post using that spot. This is not the really healthy meal that I wrote about earlier! Just tasty.

Good fried chicken

3,361 Steps so far
My iPhone reports that so far today I have to double my steps to get to a 6,500 goal. Sundown is at 6:06pm6. This means I will be walking after sunset. Not into dark, however.

I don't like to be out after dark!

6:45pm - Made 6,885 steps!  :)

Learned about peanuts
I bought a package of salted peanuts in a small grocery store. The selling price is 6Q for 2.8 Oz. [This price is equal to 2.14Q for 1 Oz.]

A young girl nut seller that I met this evening on Avenida Santander asked 10Q for 1 Oz.

I told the young girl nut seller, "No acuerdo!" [No agreement!]


Monday, February 08, 2016

Working out

I am missing my YMCA workouts. And I'm wondering about a workout place in the Town of Panajachel. So, I did a Google search.

And guess what? I came up with Pana Gym [link]. The gym is located at the intersection of Avenida Los Arboles and Calle Principal. It took a little poking around on a Google Map. Avenida Los Arboles is pretty close to my Hotel El Amigo.

That's where I am walking this morning!

Wind gone
The talk around Panajachel is, that it was wind that caused the power plant to stop generating electric power. But, this morning the wind is gone!

It's a gorgeous day. Blue cloudless sky. Going up to 79°F.

Afternoon rest time
1pm - I'm back in my room at Hotel El Amigo for my nap. Gotta have a nap in the afternoon or I can't function. My 6,500 steps/day goal is well on its way at 3,996. I accumulated most of those steps hunting for the Pana Gym which turned out to be located very close to my hotel!

My buddy John would not like Pana Gym because of rock music with a heavy beat played very loud. There is enough equipment at Pana to keep me happy.

The cost for a month's membership was a bit of surprise. 250 Quetzals [$32.50US]. That's almost the same as my YMCA gym monthly cost.  




Non-tourist breakfast
When I found Pana Gym and paid for my membership, I did not workout right away. First I went out for some breakfast. Can't workout on an empty stomach!

Across the street was what appeared to be a wholesale bakery. But retail customers were coming into the place and buying small quantities. I bought two powdered sugar covered rolls. Cost 1Q [13 cents US].

Right near the bakery was a cut up fruit seller cart. I bought a plastic bag full of various cut fruits for 5Q [65 cents US]. I asked the lady fruit seller for permission to sit on one of her chairs. "Bien", she told me.

So, I ate a non-tourist breakfast for 78 cents US! Healthy breakfast too!

Two economies
There are two economies going on side by side in Guatemala. There is one economy practiced by people who,  for example, drive Tuk Tuk taxis and work in the restaurants (working people).

There is another economy, a corrupted economy, that serves the wealthy tourist from the USA, Europe and Japan, etc. These tourists have no clue what the real value of anything is. These tourists compare the cost of stuff they buy here in Guatemala to the cost they pay back home.

This morning I bought my breakfast paying for what "the working people" here pay and it cost 78 cents.

Haircut
I knew that I needed a haircut before I flew to Guatemala. But I did not get one because I wanted to get my haircut in Panajachel. And, I wanted to get my haircut from a salon, not a barbershop.

So, as I've been walking around Pana, I've kept my eyes open for such a shop. I passed two barber shops during my walk this afternoon. Then, there it was! "Salon Aleyda".

Aleyda and I chatted during my haircut. It was a pleasant time and I received a very good haircut. Cost 30Q [$3.90US]

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Electricity outage

8am - The electric power here in the Town of Panajachel is out again. There is a possibility that the many power outages that have happened since my arrival here are due to the howling wind.

Of course when there is no electric power, there is no WiFi, because WiFi gets transmitted by an electrically powered modem owned by my hotel.

However, I am getting online by using the WiFi coming thru my iPhone's Personal Hotspot. That's what gives me the ability to annouce:
Good morning, Panajachel!

Still no electric power
2pm - I just returned to my hotel room. Walked and walked! 4,612 steps so far. And I am a bit tired!

This post is being made courtesy of AT&T and my iPhone. As I mentioned before, there is no WiFi without electricity.

Light!
3:15pm - The light in my hotel room was on when I awoke from napping. That could only mean one thing. Electricity has been restored to the Town of Panjachel!

Stories and pics
Here are stories and pics of things that I found very interesting during my walk in Panajachel today.


Kids selling nuts
Earning a living selling stuff is a way of life in Guatemala. Kids are taught early on about their responsibility.

During my walk down Avenida Santander [busiest street in town], I came upon a young girl and her younger brother. Each had a wheelbarrow containing different kinds of nuts for sale. Each nut had its own square container/box.

I offered to buy 10Q [$1.30US] worth of pistachio nuts. The girl carefully put the nuts in a small, clear plastic bag. I indicated that I wanted more nuts. So she put a few more pistachios in the bag. I paid with a 10Q bill.

Right away I came to the conclusion that I had been overcharged for the pistachios. Because just this morning I received a full breakfast [2-eggs, English muffin, country potatoes, bacon and coffee] for 20Q.

But I talked prices over with several people who live in Panajachel, and they told me that the girl charged the right price for the pistachios. The restaurant, these people informed, gave you a big bargain!

Live and learn!

10Q worth of pistachios


Lake Atitlan
Continuing my walk down Avenida Santander, I realized that I was walking towards Lake Atitlan. Of course, this is the end of that road.

The lake is really lovely. I believe that my iPhone takes good pics.

Lake Atitlan from the end of Avenida Santander

Young fruit seller
Selling cut up fruit is extremely popular in Guatemala. I sat down on a low stone wall right next to a cut-fruit stand. This fruit stand was doing an outstanding amount of business. The location was great! Lots of customers walking by.

A young girl was running the stand. She managed her job of selling, cutting fruit and collecting money in a business like manner. As a former restaurant owner myself, I clearly recognized the talent in this young girl.

A customer paid for her purchase with a large bill. The young girl fruit seller did not have change. She took the customer's large bill, handed it to her younger brother, and instructed him to get the bill changed.

In about five minutes her brother returned and informed that he could not get the bill changed. Very calmly, and with a quiet voice, the young girl fruit seller instructed her brother to get the job done!

Soon, her brother did return. He had broken the large bill. The girl handed the balance change to her brother, and pointed out the customer waiting for that change.

A young woman came up to the fruit stand. Her face resembled the girl cutting fruit. I asked if she were the sister of the young girl fruit seller? "No", she replied. "That is my daughter." "How old is she", I asked. "She has 12 years", mom replied.

"Your daughter is a very good worker and also a responsible person", I told the mom. She thanked me, with a big smile.

12 year old girl running a fruit stand business


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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Mary-Pat

Last nite at 6:15pm, I walked three blocks from my hotel to the Casita of Mary-Pat. I'd not seen Mary-Pat since March, 2013 when we were staying at Hacienda Contreras RV Park in Mexico.

And then, suddenly she was there! We both smiled big time at each other. We hugged, and entered the walled area where Mary-Pat's casita is located. As we walked thru the yard, Mary-Pat's large poodle dog was jumping around trying to make nice on me. I love dogs, and Lacy is a sweetheart!

Mary-Pat's casita is two rooms large. A kitchen/living room and bedroom. Off the bedroom is the bathroom and a walk-in closet. It is clear to me that Mary-Pat is having a wonderful time decorating her lovely casita. And she is doing that decorating spectacularly well.

Also invited for supper at Mary-Pat's is her cousin Linda and friend Mary Mullen (from Ireland). I love to listen to Mary's accent as she talks! Linda and Mary both serve with the Peace Corp taking care of babies and children born with health problems.

Supper was gourmet! Mary-Pat is a great cook.

Later, as I was walking back to my hotel, I realized that I'd forgotten to take pics! Darn! But I promised Mary-Pat a return visit next month. I'll take pics then.

Lake Atitlan
This morning at 8am, the minibus shuttle that I reserved will arrive at my hotel to take me to the Town of Panajachel on the shore of Lake Atitlan. I will be staying in one of two hotels that I learned about from Andy Graham [HoboTravler.com]. I don't have hotel reservations, but am confident that I'll get a room.

My plan is to remain in the Town of Panajachel for about five weeks. As I have mentioned to you before, this is not a tourist type visit. I am not a tourist. I am simply living here. The same as I would be doing if I had remained in my home at Guava Gardens, La Mesa, California. With one fantastic difference!

I am here in Guatemala and not in the United States!

The bus reservation
8am - Marie from the front desk of my hotel walked over to me where I was waiting in the lobby. "The minibus will not be leaving until 12:30pm", Marie informed me.

"But I have a reservation at 8am", I replied.

There was nothing to be done! So, now I am waiting here at the hotel until 12:30pm for my 8am bus to go to the Town of Panajachel.

This scenario kinda reminds me of a Seinfeld episode titled:
"The Car Reservation" [link]

Click the link above. It's a good Seinfeld story!


Hotel El Amigo
4pm - I'm checked in to Hotel El Amigo. First I tried Hotel Posada Don Carlos where I stayed the last time I was in Panajachel. No rooms!

So, I walked across the tiny street [alley] to Hotel El Amigo. There are rooms available here.

I made arrangements to remain at Hotel El Amigo until March 8th.
  • The rental for (31) days is 1,600 Quetzals
  • That comes to 51.61Q/nite
  • In dollars $6.71US/nite
Did I bargain a bit too tough?

My room
There is a queen size bed in my room with a very nice firm mattress. Two pillows [I always use 2 pillows]. Do you see the balcony in the pic?

The shower head makes hot water! Wow! TV.
I tuned into Hotel El Amigo's WiFi. It's great.

The hotel is located on a very small dead-end street. So there will be hardly any traffic to disturb me.

My room at Hotel El Amigo

PS: Andy Graham [HoboTraveler.com] is staying here too!


Ricassoli Pizza & Steak House
6pm - I've walked down a street called, "Calle Santander" and came across "Ricassoli Pizza & Steak House." It is only a five minute walk from my hotel. I like the look of this restaurant. It's quiet here.

Next door is "Pana Rock." A very different place. Pana Rock is pushing happy hour. Not that I am against being happy or experiencing a nice hour, now and then. But Pana Rock believes their music is best when it is LOUD. It is even loud where I am eating next door at Ricassoli!

A person who appeared to be an employee of Ricassoli was just coming to work. "Do you have WiFi here", I asked. She told me that they have WiFi. It is important to me to have WiFi where I eat. Because I enjoy writing my blog at restaurants.

7:15pm - Grilled Pork Chops
I just finished eating the grilled pork chops that I ordered. I was a bit suspicious of the pork chops. Because the price is sooooo low! 35Q [$4.55US] Included is potatoes in a cream sauce, guacamole with chips, soup of the day and tortillas!

This compares to grilled chicken priced at 110Q [$14.30US] With the same side dishes as the pork chops.

Big electric outage
8pm - All of the electricity just shut down in the Town of Panajachel. If I am able to publish this "Big electric outage" post to you, it will be because I am using my iPhone's personal hotspot.

11pm - The electricity here in Panajachel has been cutting out a lot during this evening.

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