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It has been sunny all day — into about 1630. When the output of a PV micro-inverter went from 130W at 1630 to 30W at 1700 I knew something was up. Heavy clouts and all.

2o minutes later, we are having a hail storm. Not a mini-hail storm but fair sized hail. From 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch. Is this normal?

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Chipilin — the plant

Not a tamale but the plant.

Not a tamale but the plant.

I wrote about tamales of chipilin in a previous post. All indication is that chipilin is nutritious but, beyond that, it just tastes good. My friend Keith has gone as far as to say that he doesn’t normally eat things with green stuff in them but those tamales are really good. Two (at a total cost of Q6) makes a pretty big dinner.

A few days ago when my part-time maid Juanita was leaving she asked me if she could have some chipilin. I was confused. There were some chipilin tamales I had just bought which were to become dinner for two. Did she want one? Nope. She wanted some leaves.


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How high is the lake?

I think this used to be a useful structure. Now it is just a lake level guage.

I think this used to be a useful structure. Now it is just a lake level guage.

In a word, high. It is the rainy season so it will be higher than in the dry season but it seems seriously high. I was first in Pana in September 2012. That was still the rainy season and I remember a lot more of this structure being out of the water.

I was in Santa Cruz a few months back and the lake was just a few inches below the level of a building right next to the pier. If I remember right about this building, that building must be a bit under water right now.

I am not the expert with long-term experience here but all indication is that the water is higher now than at least any time in the past few years. If you know more than I do, please speak up.

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Using Western Union

DO NOT use this choice.

DO NOT use this choice.

While Bitcoin will be the universal way to send and receive money, we need a solution in the mean time. Western Union is expensive (more than you first think) but it works. This post is about how it works in Panajachel — offering two distinctly different choices.

The photo at the left is of the bank you want to avoid for doing a Western Union Transfer. The good news is that a good choice is less than 100 meters away at BAM.

This bank is a bad choice because it takes forever to get it done. There is all too much manual “copy from here to there” and “manually fill out this form” going on. In addition, both times I tried they had a person who knew how to do the transaction there offering clues to the person who had to do it. Sorta depressing.

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Clear mornings, rainy afternoons

Looking at the lake/volcano from Puente La Amistad

Looking at the lake/volcano from Puente La Amistad

A few weeks ago we had something close to a warm version of Seattle weather. That is, overcast or raining all the time. But, we now seem to back to normal rainy season weather. At least for some value of normal.

That normal seems to be clear and sunny mornings with rain starting somewhere between 1230 and 1500. Sometimes it only rains for an hour, other times until after dark. Rain during the night is also not uncommon.

This is, of course, rainy season weather. In November this wet stuff goes away until after Semana Santa. So, how does this translate into lifestyle here?

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No Pana to Guate buses right now

Apparently a temporary thing but there are currently no direct buses between Panajachel and Guatemala City. Knowing this is important but there are some decent bus alternatives. Let me explain them.

The first thing you need to know is that Los Encuentros, a little nothing town on the Pan American Highway is really transportation central. At any one time there is usually around ten buses there heading for somewhere. It is generally not a place where you wait for a bus — just where you get off one and on another.

Continue reading No Pana to Guate buses right now

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A little rain and …

Santander on a rainy Monday.

Santander on a rainy Monday.

This photo may make things look a little more inactive than it really is but it’s close. 2 June, a Monday, middle of the day. Mondays are usually pretty quiet anyway. This photo was taken after hours of heavy rain so it looks less wet than just 30 minutes before.

Lots of the vendors where not in their stalls. Part of this was because it was Monday but much of it was because they expected zero customers and were probably right.

Continue reading A little rain and …

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BanRural and wire transfers

Yesterday I went to BanRural to do a Transferencia al Exterior. In other words, a bank wire. I have an account in US$ and the wire was in US$ (even though it was not to the US — actually China). What should have been easy turned into a 1+ hour experience and made me realize that if I need to do US$ transfers, BanRural is not the right place to use.

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Plums and more

Not ice cream sticks.

Not ice cream sticks.

Plums, strawberries, mangos and, of course, bananas seem to be the most popular fruit in the market right now. Plums and strawberries cost Q5/lb, more or less. Mangos vary from Q1 each to 2 for Q5 depending on size, type and how you act. I say how you act because I have seldom been treated to Gringo prices even though I am clearly a Gringo. It tends to be more like if you act like you have a good idea what the price should be, you will get quoted a reasonable price.

If I am looking at something new, fruit that just came into season for example, I will usually ask the price in a couple of places. If the place is selling something of a known price, I will ask the price for both the known and the new item. That helps tell me if I am getting real prices.

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Got any left over pasta?

Got any left over pasta?

This photo was taken inside the Bistro, a restaurant on Calle Santander fairly close to the lake. He really was quite well-mannered. Until the waiter asked him to leave (the waiter was well-mannered as well), he walked from table to table, sat down and waited. He never said anything but, in one case, he made a paw motion.

Not any sort of aggressive paw motion. It was more like a movement to call attention to him. He was at one table with six people and an old woman seemed to have not noticed him so, pretty much, he waved at her.

Seeing we are talking about things inside the Bistro, let me tell a bit more.

Continue reading Well-mannered

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