Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Walk to Santa Catarina (And Stuff)

Our dog, Pachi, is scared of fireworks. She grew up in Santiago, a pretty big city across the lake from Pana, so perhaps she had some bad experiences with nasty people who shoot fireworks at dogs. Or perhaps it's just that her large goofy ears are super sensitive to the loud noises. :)
Any excuse to post another picture of our weirdo dog, Pachi.
When we were walking to the beach on Christmas Day, someone set off some bangers and Pachi took off running. Bert tried to follow her but she disappeared pretty quickly down the road towards the yellow bridge. We continued on to the beach and had our fun, fully expecting to find Pachi back at home when we returned. But she didn't show up before dark, which made us very worried. Bert had a feeling that Pachi had run all the way back to the lake house, our old apartment that is halfway to Santa Catarina, but unfortunately, he didn't follow through on that instinct right away. We decided to wait and see if maybe she would come home over night when it was quieter and less fireworks to scare her off course.

Boxing Day arrived and no Pachi. Bert went out for a walk to look... and then I got a call from our old landlady saying that Pachi was indeed at the lake house. Bert was right! The silly dog had run all the way out to our old place! Our landlady tied her up and I told her we'd be right out.
Bert hoofed it out there as fast as he could, but by the time he got there, Pachi had broken her collar and escaped again. He called and Pachi.

In the afternoon, I took my turn to go search. I walked all the way out to our old place, down to the beach, and then up to the mirador. It was so hot! About 27° Celsius. Since I made it to the lookout without dying of heat exhaustion, I figured it was all downhill to Santa Catarina, and decided to go down to look around. The downhill walk is much nicer than the uphill, that's for sure!
Romantic? Hmm... more like cheap & anonymous!
So there are these weird buildings here in Guatemala called an auto hotels. I had to have it explained to me because I couldn't quite understand why you would get your own parking garage with your hotel room.
These are basically cheap, private, hourly-rate hotel rooms where you can have some "special time". And the garage is there so you can drive into the hotel -- in your car with tinted windows, of course! - and close the garage door and no one will ever see your face. I've heard some of them you don't even physically see an attendant. You pay over the phone, or through a slit in the wall.
On our walks through Jucanya over the past few months, we noticed a nice apartment building going up. Or so we thought! Turns out it's finished now, and it's an auto hotel.
Now, you must know: it's not all cheaters and ladies of the night that use these hotels. Oftentimes, families live in large groups in one house with very thin walls. Even young married couples live with their parents and grandparents and children. So private time with your loved one is precious...and now can be found in Jucanya at Romantic Suites. Ooh-la-la!
Note: I've also read that they turn away tourists because it's not for them. It's not just a cheap hotel for backpackers and the like. It's a place for a specific purpose.

The Romantic Suites bay doors with bedrooms above.
(Okay, back to the story about Santa Catarina and the quest for Pachi. Thanks for reading!)
Poinsettia tree growing at the beach near our old apartment.
(Wait... do the poinsettias count as an A.D.D. moment? Hmmm. This is my life! So many awesome things to look at. I can't focus on just one purpose!)
In Santa Catarina, the ladies weave right on the street. It was very interesting to see, but I felt embarrassed to take their picture close up.
Santa Catarina Palopó is built up into the hillside on the shore of Lake Atitlan. There is one road going through, and all the other streets seem to be accessed by climbing narrow stairways between buildings.
I walked down to the docks, passing the vendors lazing in the shade with cups of shaved ice, then walked through the whole town on the one road. No Pachi, and no other gringos either. Santa Catarina doesn't offer much to tourists, and they usually only arrive here via boats during tours around Lake Atitlan.
(I did see some tourists just before I left town. They were walking up from the docks and getting mobbed by young boys saying, "One quetzal. One quetzal.")
It IS a radio tower!
In San Pedro my sisters took a picture of a weird lone tall tree on the edge of town. We thought it was so strange to have just one tall pine tree on the end of a promontory. Yeah, well, it's not a tree! It's a radio tower of some sort and it's decorated to LOOK like a tree. So strange! Santa Catarina has one too and I got close enough to see the fake plastic branches.
The road going through Santa Catarina. Empty.
Santa Catarina has a neat church, a few stores, and apparently some in-lake hot springs that I have yet to find. The vendors in the alley that goes to the dock sell a few items that I haven't seen in Panajachel, like gorgeous beaded necklaces with jeweled butterflies. The town is quiet, a bit run-down, and is an interesting peek into life in a local village quite unlike the tourist-mobbed Pana.

Anyhoo, no Pachi, and in fact only one street dog to be seen, so I sat in front of the church and watched little boys trying to set off leftover dud fireworks they'd collected from the streets. I saw maybe three tuk-tuks as I sat for about an hour, though pickups did go by about every 15 minutes, honking to alert people to their presence as they drove slowly through town. When one came by with a nice old man driving and lots of room in the back, I simply raised my hand to stop him, and jumped in. A quick, breathtaking ride over the hills back to Pana should have only cost me Q3, but when I handed him my Q10 note, he gave me Q5 back and looked away. I didn't have the energy to argue.

Back in Pana, I took my Xmas money from my parents and went into the Curacao store, an appliance store right next to the Despensa. There, I bought an horno tostador! (Some Spanish words just sound funny to me. Tostador sounds like the name of a Guatemalan superhero! One of my other favorite words is panqueques -- pancakes -- pronounced "pan-kay-kays". Fun to say!)
Shopping in some of the big stores here is a bit strange. You select your item, but don't pick it up. A sales guy will ring you up on a computer and put in your name and stuff, then print you a receipt. Then you take that receipt to another counter where you pay. Then you go back to get your item. Odd.
Toaster oven for Q359. Use to convert to your currency. It's about $65 Canadian.
I got home footsore and dehydrated and with no Pachi. It was a sad household that went to sleep for our second night without her.

Which brings me to this morning and some good news! Bert got up early and drove the motorcycle back out AGAIN to the old apartment near the lake to see if Pachi had turned up. No luck.
But shortly after he got back, I got an email from our old landlady saying Pachi was there! I guess Bert and Pachi must have just missed each other. This time Phyllis tied her up using Jack's collar since Pachi's was broken. No more escaping! I sent Bert over in a tuk-tuk quickity-quick to get her! YAY!!

So all ended well, and Pachi is now back home, and currently up in the garden scrounging through the compost pile. Dry dog food is just not enough for her! She needs a daily supply of rotten vegetables, I guess. And for the rest of the holidays, she'll be walking on a leash so we don't have to go through this again! Once the daily onslaught of fireworks calms down in like, say, May, then she can walk off-leash again. :)

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