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Daily rental unit in Pana available

The "livingroom" of the apartment.

The “livingroom” of the apartment.

While I am not in the rental business, I have this empty unit above part of my house. Friends have stayed in it. We have talked about renting it out by the night which would be a project for my wife — but she is working in Nicaragua right now.

Enter a solution: a local friend is looking for a way to make some money to go to college. She is going to manage it for me. It is very convenient to central Panajachel (less than 100 meters off Calle Santander) but also very private. The details and more photos are available here.

If you are interested, email me at nicafyl@gmail.com.

Sunday night at the hospital

Almost visitor's hours on Tuesday.

Almost visitor’s hours on Tuesday.

This is my adventure story with how you deal with medical emergencies in Panajachel. I know I don’t want to repeat this and Rocio doesn’t either but it is what happened and the results. For those of you who live where you think you have good free medical care, this may help you put that into perspective.

The adventure started on Sunday evening. The photo is from Tuesday when we went to pick up Rocio. A friend commented “those people look happier than people here [in Oregon] going out to dinner or to a movie.”

Sunday, Rocio was at my house doing homework (accounting, in my opinion something to make you sick) with a classmate. About 8PM she had this pain and went to lie down. I made her some Valarian tea but the pain continued to get worse. She was convinced it was serious and her response to gently touching low on the right side of her abdomen convinced me it wasn’t just accounting homework.

Continue reading Sunday night at the hospital

First dentist experience in Pana

Last Thursday I fractured a tooth. A piece broke off but stayed semi-attached in the gum. Friday morning I ran into a friend and asked about dentists. He suggested (without knowing her name) Dra. Lily Contrares). I walked down there and her assistant suggested I come back around 1200. So, I did.

She took a quick look, asked the right questions and we agreed it was better to come back for “a real appointment” which was today. It was at 1130. She apologized for being behind schedule (all dentists are behind schedule) but by 1140, I was in the chair. We started with an X-ray because the fracture went way below the gum line. Continue reading First dentist experience in Pana

Local cooking

Tasty casserole made from local ingredients.

Tasty casserole made from local ingredients.

OK, I did the cooking. What is important is that I bought the ingredients within walking distance of my house.

If I was in Seattle, I would expect to find the ingredients nearby. Maybe not walking distance but close. But, I am in Panajachel and this is a vegan dish with some ingredients not common in the third world. First, the easy ones:

  • Fresh tomatoes from the public market
  • Basil from my garden
  • Onion, garlic, … from the public market
  • Potatoes from the public market

Nothing special about that stuff except much was grown locally and all was available within walking distance. Now, on to the more interesting stuff: Continue reading Local cooking

Cebolla in Sololá

In the market in Sololá. Photo by Rocio.

In the market in Sololá. Photo by Rocio.

The public market in Sololá is big. Many times larger than the one in Pana and well-organized. That is, you will find all the places vending a particular type of thing (shoes, for example) in one area.

The primary focus is, of course, food and that mostly means fresh food. It has a big fresh meat section, for example. But, where we were there yesterday fairly early and we ran into this area. I would say onions are a very important product.

Not like New York

Turkey de Los Arboles.

Turkey de Los Arboles.

Last Sunday, Rocio and I were walking back from the public market. As we walked past a little store I heard a turkey. That didn’t make sense but I did look into the store. Naw, no turkey. I was clearly just hearing things.

A few steps later, I heard it again. I turned around. Rocio asked me what I was doing. I wasn’t yet ready to say “looking for a turkey” so I said something like “I heard a strange noise”. Then I heard it again.

Continue reading Not like New York

Say no to Monsanto in Guatemala

Anti-Monsanto flyer in Panajachel.

Anti-Monsanto flyer in Panajachel.

When I walked to the post office today I saw a new flier posted on the wall near correos. The positive side is that someone/some organization recognizes the GMO problem and is raising awareness. Specifically, the last part of the flier says

La Agricultura Tradicional Guatamalteco todavía mantiene muchas familias. Es casi el ultimo parte del mundo en que se ve esta riqueza natural y comida familiar. Vale defenderla, y la economía rural, local y regional. El idea de gran comercialización va como siempre a beneficar las corparaciones, no a la gente.

Besides good news, there is bad news.

Continue reading Say no to Monsanto in Guatemala

Now What?

What does a smart teen do when she finishes school here?

What does a smart teen do when she finishes school here?

I am not a local and I am not a teenager. I love it here and I see a lot of happy people including the locals. It took a conversation with a smart 16 year old for me to start thinking about this issue. Now that I have, I would like to think about what we could do to address it.

First, let me state the problem. Kids finish their basic education at 16. Some will be able to go off to a university somewhere, many will not. There is no local university so your opportunities are really limited by what your family can afford. Because of the tourism and resident Gringos here the local population is doing a lot better than in many other areas of Guatemala. But, in general, that doesn’t translate to teenagers being able to go away to college.

That leaves them with some less than exciting options:

  • Go to one of the trade schools and learn how to work in an office
  • Get married (all too young) to someone who can support you
  • Do what your mother did which usually means working as a maid, maybe a waitress or selling things to tourists

Continue reading Now What?


Looks like cacao but isn't.

Looks like cacao but isn’t.

This post is mostly about why you would want to go to the public market with a local — even if you have been going there regularly for two years. The trip today was with Rocio, the 16 year old daughter of Juanita, a person who cleans our house twice a week.

About 10 AM we headed for the market with a reasonable shopping list. Most everything was well-defined except I wrote fruit. Normal as what I buy in fruit is usually a function of what is fresh and cheap. The first fruit purchase was where I tend to buy my vegetables. She had strawberries which looked great for Q4/lb.

After a few other inside purchases we headed out to the sidestreet which is usually the best place to get fresh fruit.

Continue reading Pataxte

Nothing special

Just kids in a tree

Just kids in a tree

I was looking through the photos I have for some to use in the new business we are starting up and ran into this one. It’s from 11 months ago. It’s nothing special if you are here but it does seem special if you are not.