Thursday, June 4, 2015

You Never Know What You'll See in Panajachel

A few days ago, Bert worked for a day helping a guy move. He made a decent Guatemalan wage of Q100 for about eight hours. That's a whopping $2.03 Canadian per hour! But it gave him something to do, plus he made a new contact in the gringo world.

While he was out making the big bucks, I walked to town by myself and explored some laneways of Jucanya (Hoo-can-YA). I was so happy to be a gawking tourist... and got gawked at myself a few times when I wandered down some dead-end alleys.
A lovely gateway in Jucanya.

So many amazing flowers in Guatemala... and we're not even the rainforest-y part. :)

Jucanya is a maze of narrow streets, with even narrower alleys like this one branching off.

One of the "main" streets in Jucanya. Narrow, cobbled, meandering. I love it!

I took this picture as I was walking down this alley, not knowing the black door was the end of the road.

I turned around and took a picture back the way I came.
Unfortunately, my camera's battery died so I didn't get any more pictures of my day. I ended up finding my way out of the maze of Jucanya and to the beach, which is really nice except for the piles of smelly aquatic plants washed up onshore. I walked through the park that we visited before on a Sunday, but this time it was mostly empty, just a few people buying snacks, six Mayan girls giggling over ice creams, and a young couple lounging on a pier.
The beach led to the delta of the river, and I thought it would be as easy to cross as last time. No such luck! The little footbridge was gone. I tried hopping over the numerous small streams but soon got stranded on a sandbar and decided to just walk straight through the water in my sandals. It was actually quite refreshing!
Crossing the river delta gets you straight to the lakefront area of Panajachel, so I walked back up Santander, bought some groceries, and then walked all the way back home. What a hike! It was probably about 10 kilometers or so in total.

Today, Bert and I went to town in search of a new guitar. He sold the one he brought here from Canada, spent some of the money having fun, and the rest on buying a nylon-string Spanish guitar and soft carrying case/kitty bed.
Willow has a new bed! (Her eyes are wonky in this picture, aren't they? Ha!)

Strumming happily!
I took a few pictures as I shopped for groceries today in Panajachel. I love this crazy town. It's always such an adventure, with so many things to see.
This is on Calle Santander heading northeast. That old Mayan woman walks around town gathering cans from the garbages, and she is always shadowed by many, many dogs. I've seen seven with her on some days!

A closer picture of the abuelita (little grandmother) with Bert & Pachi on the right.

Last week, these tables were filled with books for sale. This week it's hard donut-shaped bread and peanuts in the shell.
I wondered if there was some significance to this particular combo, so I asked on Facebook. Sifting through the joke responses -- "They are pre-Columbian artifacts." -- I discovered that today was Corpus Christi.

Along Calle Principale on the way to the market, people set up to sell lunches and snacks. This young woman makes the most amazing-smelling meat on her grill. I have yet to try it. I am shy!

The lady in the pink blouse is at the "sweets" stand. Then there's a stand of fresh fruit, and an ice cream cart!
I sometimes feel like I'm walking through an amusement park with all the little food carts. :)

While I was in the Despensa (big grocery store), I heard some hooting and hollering outside. Luckily, Bert was outside with Pachi and snapped a quick picture of some costumed folks strolling down the street! People were also setting off banging fireworks around the city. What a way to celebrate a religious holiday!  :D
Here is a video I took on Calle Principale to show you what the town is like.
One of the strange preconceptions I had of Pana before I came here was what the town would be like. I remember poring over the Google map and imagining myself walking down the streets. But it's NOTHING like I imagined!
The streets are very busy, loud, smelly, narrow, and rough. They're either bumpy asphalt or cobblestones... and I'm thinking cobblestones are better! A few of the bigger streets are one-way to make traffic easier, and there are traffic "cops" at the busiest intersections at certain times, armed only with whistles and neon vests. There are some sidewalks, but other times you're within inches of the traffic, squeezing between a truck unloading Pepsi and a soot-belching chicken bus roaring through town. Chuchos (street dogs) are everywhere, sniffing, scrounging, sleeping. And people... so many fascinating people to see! Mayan ladies with their gorgeous dresses and baskets on their heads, Mayan men wearing cowboy hats and carrying machetes, people riding bicycles while talking on cell phones, school kids in a myriad of uniforms, and of course gringo tourists with backpacks, cameras, and stunned smiles.
Just another wonderful day in Panajachel!

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