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Car Title Transfer

In general, I have been satisfied dealing with the government — from Immigration to SAT (the tax folks). Doing a title transfer on a car, however, is a different game. This is my experience. you can decide if it seems reasonable or not.

Step 1 is easy — or, so it seems. On the back of the current car title is the form to fill out to do the transfer. No real surprises there. Basically, the seller fills in his basic info including his NIT (tax number) and they the buyer does the same. (Yes, you need to have a NIT but you need residency to get one–a recent change–so there could be some issues here.) A notary then needs to authenticate the the signatures.

So far, so good except make sure the buyer address matches exactly the address of your NIT. If it does not you get fined Q15. The amount is not the issue but having to deal with it will add 30 minutes or more to your time at SAT.

We (buyer and seller) headed up to SAT in Sololá (you can’t do this at SAT in Panajachel) Friday morning arriving at about 9AM. Oops, too late. They had issued all the “tickets” for the day. In the process of grumbling to each other, a guy came over and gave us his card. The cards are pretty ugly but say “Tramites de SAT Byron” and give a phone number of 5470-5585. His gig is that for Q150 he will do all the possible footwork and be in line at 6AM so you can show up at 7:30AM. Or, if you want him to also do the lawyer step, add another Q100 — a good deal as I paid my lawyer Q150.

I hate lines and decided Q150 was a good investment. (The seller asked me, “do you think he is honest”. My reply was that a crook would not be handing out business cards to everyone with his phone number.) I gave him the old title, my DPI and money — for him and for SAT. He quickly got the paperwork ready to submit and the two payments to SAT (Q500 and Q120) done, plus a copy of my DPI. That was it until the line Monday morning.

I arrived at about 0715. Byron was there as promised. We waited until the gate was opened at 0750. They we made a mad dash for a row of chairs and I negotiated back into my position as number 4.

At 0800 a SAT guy and two guards came out to “see what we had” and, if it looked good, staple a “ticket” to it. I passed this initial check. A few minutes later the first couple of people were allowed to enter (there were apparently a few leftovers from Friday as well). The women in front of me and I were told “come back at 1030”. Grumble.

So, I went off and ate breakfast (Q13 in one of the stands on the side of the park) and did some shopping. Arrived back a bit before 1030. At 1030 a few of us were told we could go inside. Wow, we now got to form a queue in a different set of chairs. I was number two.

The time at the window was mostly non-verbal. The guy looks at your paperwork and a computer monitor and puts red checkmarks for all the correct stuff. In my case, he pulled out the yellow highlighter which I had previously been told was a bad thing. Sure enough, my address didn’t match 100% with what is on my NIT.

When he was done check-marking he printed out another form — with my mistake. I was sent off to another line where I could give the mistake form to the guy and he would print out “a bill”. Twelve people later plus the only guy serving the queue running off to the bathroom I had the next piece of paper.

Off to the bank queue. In a few minutes I got to pay my Q15 and return to the first inside line. I again got to watch the man at the window type and check but he was slower this time as he was talking on the phone with, I assume, his lover. Eventually we finished, he went off to laminate my new curculation card and I was done. It was about 1230.

Public Ministry Raids Radio Juventud in Solola

This story is from Cultural Survival. It is one of the typical “unlicensed stations gets shut down” stories. You can see these in the US as well as here in Guatemala.
The article goes on to explain the public outrage because Radio Juventud really is a useful community service, particularly for the indigenous community. It sounds likely that it will get re-opened. But, there is a bit more to this than one unlicensed station getting shut down.

Continue reading Public Ministry Raids Radio Juventud in Solola

Gringo insights

Seriously learning Guatemalan culture.

Seriously learning Guatemalan culture.

This morning I was heading to the public market when I passed a gaggle of Gringos walking down Calle Santander. Clearly some sort of organized gaggle as they had a handler leading them. That is, a person pointing out things to them in, of course, English.

There were probably 20 people, most of them well beyond retirement age. But, what is there to point out along Calle Santander at 9AM on a Saturday. That is, what needs to be said other than “yes, folks sell clothing” and “there are some stores here”?

Well, apparently one of the couples, a young one probably only in their 50s, was apparently having the same problem. They were pretty much at the back of the pack and didn’t seem to be listening to their handler.

Continue reading Gringo insights

Where do you buy “ordinary stuff”?

Sure, I know where to buy local artisan products, groceries, beer, … I know of a lot of ropa usada stores, hardware stores, motorcycles, … If you have been here, you get the idea. But, what I would consider ordinary stuff seems to be harder to find. I am going to list a few items — mostly so you get the idea. Where do you buy them? Locally? In Guatemala City? On-line?

For extra credit, does Pana need an “ordinary stuff” store?

Continue reading Where do you buy “ordinary stuff”?

What’s it cost to stay in Panajachel?

Typical breakfast menu

Typical breakfast menu

One of the people asking about our rental unit asked this question. As there is no kitchen in the unit, the question was inspired by the cost of eating out but I have decided to be a bit more comprehensive. The information is also much more generic as the rental unit is very central so you will have the same experience if you are staying in a nearby hotel such as Hotel Regis.

The short answer is “as little or as much as you want”. I almost suggested this was obvious but there are lots of tourist destinations where your only options are tourist locations accompanied with all too typical tourist prices. This is not the case in Panajachel. That is because “local folk” live very near the tourist locations. Thus, it is more a selection of the tourist where to go/eat/buy than in most places. That said, let’s look at some numbers.

Continue reading What’s it cost to stay in Panajachel?

Linux in Panajachel

Just another system running Linux.

Just another system running Linux.

The system in the picture is running Linux. In my house that’s the norm — with the exception of Rocio installing Skype on “my” tablet, there is no Microsoft software here. Tablets and phones run Linux (Android), desktops and laptops run Ubuntu or Mint Linux.

That’s the norm in my life. Long ago I wrote about how children in Nicaragua were doing just find with Linux systems. The difference was that these kids were younger (most were 5 to 8) and, to the best of my knowledge, none of them had used a computer before. (They were all kids from a very poor barrio of Estelí.) Jessica, a 12 year old, became their teacher after she figured out how to use the Linux system herself. But, here we are talking about 16 year olds.

Continue reading Linux in Panajachel

How about a small motorcycle?

When I moved to Nicaragua in 2004 I bought a small motorcycle. A “Brand X” 150cc one that was really a Chinese clone of a Honda 125 with a motor with a bit more displacement. It was a decent bike. As I remember, it cost $1900. It was from the influx of cheap junk motorcycles.
Moving forward, I decided to look at what exists in Panajachel. So, I took some time and looked around. This is the basic look at what you can find.
Continue reading How about a small motorcycle?

Tourist/visitor in need of local help?

While I mentioned this in my Unit for rent in Pana page I have decided the idea of available local help is worth a blog post. So, here it is. I will cover who these people are, why using them may make sense and what are the costs.

People who could work for you.

People who could work for you.

There are lots of people here who work in what we have become accustomed to calling the informal sector. Roughly translated, that means they work for cash and their income is not reported. It’s very common and not limited to just paying a maid or day worker. For example, some companies pay their workers this way. In other words, it is typical practice.

Continue reading Tourist/visitor in need of local help?

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