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San Antonio Festival

The festival in San Antonio Palopó is coming to a close. For the story, check out http://casasderocio.com/san-antonio-festival/

What’s the Exchange Rate?

The exchange rates listed in the box on the left are best described as typical. Nothing official but what they seem to be. It’s a reasonable guide. But, there is an official rate — different for buying and selling — which is easy to find.

Continue reading What’s the Exchange Rate?

Semi-private Boat

Three of us (myself and two CasasdeRocio guests) were in San Lucas ready to return to San Antonio Palopó. There is usually a Sunday boat at 1030 but we were told it wasn’t leaving until 1100. Then, magically at 1038 we saw a lot of San Antonians headed for one of the boats. While I was willing to squeeze in, Greg and Lita decided not to. So, I got off and we were quickly approached by the pilot of another boat. He offered us a private trip for Q125.

Continue reading Semi-private Boat

Grocery Shopping

If you are new to the area or just a tourist with a stove and refrigerator, knowing what’s available and where to buy it is important. This post is primarily for people on the west side of the lake — from Panajachel to San Lucas.

In all the pueblos you will find an assortment of little tiendas — sometimes more than one in a block — with the basics but what is a basic for a Guatemalan is likely different from a Gringo. In cans you will likely find pop, beans and sardines. In some add beer to the list. In packages you find cooking oil, coffee, rice, sugar, salt and sanitary napkins. Bags of chips. Matches, shoe polish, soap, toilet paper and pretty much nothing more other than maybe some bad white bread and rolls.

Continue reading Grocery Shopping

Where Not to Change Your Money

Money FlavorsThe worst place to change your money is in the airport. Think about it: having an exchange booth in the terminal is expensive. And you pay for it.

Recent guests asked me what the exchange rate was suggesting it was about Q6 to the US$. That number came from them changing some money in the airport. It is way off. The official exchange rate is 7.62 and has been between 7.5 and 8.0 for years. If you go to any bank (and have a US$50 or US$100) that is what you will get.

The “bad” exchange rates you will find by going into a local tienda with your US$ will be somewhere between 7 and 7.5. Coyotes on the street generally pay very close to the bank rates as long as it is for $50s and $100s. If you don’t know why I am talking about the larger bills, check out Locuras … .

Sunrise (or) Sunset

San Antonio SunsetIf you are going to stay on the lake, you have a choice of whether you will see a sunrise or a sunset over the hills. It depends on where you are on the lake. At out Bed and Breakfast in San Antonio, sunsets are the big event of the day. The photo at the left was taken by my daughter from the deck of the B&B.

Continue reading Sunrise (or) Sunset

Guatemala City “buying” trip

I recently had to make a trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. There are always things I want that are not available locally but I just don’t like the seven hours of travel to go to Guatemala City and back. Plus, bringing back a lot of stuff on the bus is inconvenient. So, I decided to take advantage of being in the city, buy things I need and have Rolando, the driver we recommend in San Antonio Palopó for our Bed and Breakfast customers, pick me up. Or more accurately, pick us up as my daughter wanted to experience Guatemala City.

Squash pie from Rey Sol.

Squash pie from Rey Sol.

I got back Thursday evening and stayed at Hotel Spring (as always) in Zona 1. Friday was “shopping for the B&B day”. I bought a couple of safes, a blender and some hardware store items not available in Panajachel. I also found a pawn shop a couple of blocks from the hotel on Saturday morning and bought a toaster oven/coffee maker combo for our Panajachel apartment and a convection oven for the B&B. A total success. And, I ate at Rey Sol, an excellent vegetarian restaurant in Zona 1. Continue reading Guatemala City “buying” trip

Banks say no to US$20 or less

The story is on decodeit.org and it is nationwide but how it works on the lake is what we care about. The Guatemalan government has told the banks not to accept US currency other than $50 and $100 bills. This makes no sense to me. Here are a few reasons:

  • Unless it has changed in the last month, the Cajero (ATM) at BAC in Panajachel gives you a choice of Quetzales or US$ — US$20.
  • The official currency of El Salvador is the US$. Lots of people travel between El Salvador and Guatemala daily. Most are not going to have lots of money.
  • As the owner of a Bed and Breakfast, customers paying cash who don’t live in Guatemala almost always pay in US$. Even if they were paying with a US$50 bill, that would mean I need to give them $10 change for our $40 room. What do they do with the US$10 bill?

Continue reading Banks say no to US$20 or less

Another Dentist Visit

While Rocio and her mother have had good luck with Dra. Lily, my good luck until a week ago was no dentist visits. Then, I broken another tooth. Last Friday Lily said “partial crown” and did the prep work and impressions. The options were:

  • Ugly one for Q800
  • Pretty one for Q1000

I picked the pretty one. I wasn’t concerned with pretty as it is way in the back but I figured having ceramic rather than more metal was a good thing. Rumor is that it will be ready on Monday. Continue reading Another Dentist Visit

Considerations for your garden

Starting SeedlingsAround the lake the weather is like what you would expect (minus the smog) on the good days in Los Angeles, California. The big difference is that is what it is like year round here. In general, expect the temperature to be in the range of 10C to 30C, day or night, whatever month of the year. January will be on the low end, April on the high end but that’s about it.

If you are living in the area you may wonder why there are particular planting times for crops. The reason is water. Most of the area does not have irrigation water so crops are planted such that the rain will happen when it is needed. (Note that in San Antonio Palopó there is irrigation water for all the rural land and what you find are crops, particularly onions, growing year round.) Continue reading Considerations for your garden