Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's C-C-C-Cold!!

Oh my! I thought when I moved from Canada to Guatemala that I would never say the word "cold" again unless it was in reference to my frozen margarita! But these past few days and nights it's been really chilly here in Panajachel. The winds are CRAZY. Doesn't help that our house is made of wood and the wind just whooshes right through the half-inch cracks around the windows. 馃挩馃槻

This weather station says it's going to go down to 5°C (41°F) tonight. Brrrr.

So what do we do to keep warm? Lots of hot chocolates and lots of blankets.

Our new doggie, Mia. Rob put a blankie on her cuz she was cold and she hasn't moved since. :)
When Calvin gets really cold, he puts his tail over his nose. Not quite there yet!
Queso and Noodles sharing a pillow and some warmth.
Every doggie gets a pillow to sleep on. Gus guards his quite zealously.
Rui loves to go out and run around in the wind, but comes in to eat, drink, and warm up his toes.
Wait? Where are his legs?? Ha ha! He's "meatloafing". 馃槅
Willow says, "Cold? BAH! I'm a Canadian kitty. I gots me the FUR." 馃挆
Bert all bundled up and doing mosaics at the kitchen table.
My solution to late-night work sessions -- a candle to warm up my fingers. 
What do Guatemalans do about the cold? Lots of families have wood stoves in the houses for cooking, and I imagine they use them to heat their homes on nights like these. Families share beds to keep warm. There are lots of wool blankets for sale everywhere. We see a lot of locals wearing wool toques and scarves and big winter jackets.
Here in the highlands and the higher elevations, there is actually a real danger of hypothermia for those who are unprepared. Many municipalities have "warming centers" where people can stay overnight. We've seen news stories of homeless or drunk people found frozen to death in the morning. :(

Here's to warmer temperatures in a few days! And my condolences to my family and friends back in Canada who have months and months and MONTHS more of this to look forward to. 馃槹

Friday, December 8, 2017

Let's All Go To The Clinic!

Yesterday morning, bright and early, we took Mia and Queso and Noodles to the Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos monthly spay/neuter clinic at the Panajachel municipal hall. It was a big day.
Mia was indeed pregnant, despite rumors to the contrary, but she was early enough along that we decided to terminate. It was a tough decision and I'm kinda sad. But there are so many homeless street dogs around the Lake, we didn't feel it was right to add to the burden.
Queso and Noodles, both about eight months old, got neutered and vaccinated. My poor babies! I was so nervous all day waiting to hear that they were okay, especially Sweet Baby Noodles, who is still so small! They came through it like little troopers. I'm sure they'll bounce back quickly.

I snapped some bad quality photos of the day. The lighting wasn't the best and animals are always troublesome to photograph. "Stay still so I can capture how cute you are!!" 馃槉

My babies, Queso and Noodles, squished into one carrier. They didn't mind.
Bert and Mia at the back of the line. The clinic is so popular, it often fills up before the open time of 9am. Latecomers get turned away. :(
It's wonderful to see so many people bringing in their pets!
Selaine, AYUDA's founder and powerhouse, and the cutest softest puppy ever!
Signing everyone in.
People find very creative ways to get their cats in to see the vet! Carried in a sack, in a laundry basket, or just in their arms.
Two sweet kitties waiting their turn.
Kim, the AYUDA intern, talking to a lady about her dog's condition. I hope she turned out okay!
Selaine getting kisses from another sweet pup. I just could NOT get that pup to sit still for a photo!
Smiling cuz he has no idea what they're gonna do to him.
A young volunteer getting lessons from Selaine about recognizing dog language.
A late arrival -- a feral tom cat in a trap. Good catch! The lovely couple who brought this guy in also captured a momma cat and kittens. Excellent work!
Bert and the wee little puppers!!
To donate to AYUDA and support the low-cost care of my pets and many others, please visit this link:
A great Xmas gift!

It was one of those days where everything that needed to get done all happened within the space of a half hour. Bert went off to pick up the animals from the clinic while I simultaneously worked and scrambled to help a friend move into the casita. It was a relief when everyone was pretty much settled. That is until the kittens woke up and decided they were well enough to walk about. (They're weren't!)
Numbers on their heads!
Silly Queso tried to walk and fell down. Then he pooped himself. *sigh*
(It's pink dye on his butt, not blood.)
Poor Mia. 馃槩 She still had the spirit to chase our other cat, Rui, which worried me to no end. Not for Rui's sake, cuz he got away, but for Mia's stitches! Ouchies!
My boys cuddling for warmth. I put a blanket on them after this. They were so cold! It's an effect of the anesthesia, but it's scary to feel your normally warm kitty so chilled.
Poor Noodles wouldn't stop shivering, even with a blanket and his brother, so I filled up my hot water bottle, wrapped it in a towel, and tucked it beside them. They slept together on a big pillow on the bedroom floor.

Everyone is doing okay this morning. Mia is quiet. Noodles hurt his leg somehow and is limping but otherwise good. And Queso is walking around really low to the if the floor is moving! LOL

Have a great day, faithful readers. Hug your pets!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bert Got a Tooth Pulled

Poor Bert showed up late last week with the right side of his face all swollen up. It looked like he had some grapes tucked under his bottom lip! I knew immediately that a cracked tooth had gotten a nasty infection. I sent him off to the dentist immediately. You don't mess around with this stuff.

We use Dra. Lily Contreras, located on Santander above the Banco Industrial. Here is her link in the Atitlan Directory:

Dr. Lily wasn't in the office when Bert showed up, but her assistant called her and she came quickly. She took a look at Bert's tooth and told him he'd have to get the infection under control before they could remove the tooth. She said it was "too dangerous" to operate while the infection was so bad.
Dra. Lily's assistant posing in the office. 馃槃
So off Bert goes to the pharmacy to get antibiotics. Eeks, expensive! Clavimox BID, 20 pills for Q404. That's a 10-day course, twice a day. (Clavimox is 125 mg of Clavulanic Acid and 875 mg of Amoxicillin.)

Today, Bert headed back to meet the dental surgeon, Dr. Hector Alberto Cordon Orellana. (Whew, say that five times fast!) They were running late, about a half hour, which is not unusual here or back home either, for that matter. The procedure itself only took about 30 minutes.

Bert says, "The worst part was getting the needles." It didn't take long to get the tooth out but then they had to scrape the infection off the bone. EWWWWWW. 馃槚 "It felt like torture. That was excruciating. Tears were forming in my eyes." After a minute or two of that, they were done. Ouchies! They packed it with gauze and sent him home with instructions not to walk dogs today. He has to rest. (He's pacing the floor right now. The painkillers have obviously kicked in so his energy is still high.)

Dr. Lily said Bert was very brave. Ha ha! Bert says it made him feel like a child when she said that but I think it's adorable. He says, "What was I supposed to do? Cry like a baby? You just gotta sit there and take it."

The cost of the extraction was only Q350. Less than the antibiotics! They gave him a prescription to get 600mg of ibuprofens but we had some at home already, so we didn't buy more.

Bert kept the tooth (gross), showed it to me and said, "Do I get money from the Tooth Fairy?" I said, "Yeah, the money to pay for the dentist!"

So now Bert is on soft food for a few days. But we get to try this new Jello flavour: strawberry and banana.
Strawberry-banana jello. Yummy!
The moral of the story: there are good dentists here in Panajachel, Guatemala. Pretty much just like home, and actually cheaper. Don't fret about dental care if you're thinking of moving to Guate.
Smile on! 馃榿

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Week on "Dogs of Our Lives"

Just a quick post to update everyone on a new addition. Bert's eye was caught by this lovely lady who was living on the streets of Santiago, across the lake from us.
They called her Dulce, which means "sweet".
A small animal welfare organization called Fantasma Animal Rescue had been keeping an eye on her and posted her picture on Facebook to see if she could get adopted. Well, Bert couldn't resist! He contacted Donald and Barbara at Fantasma, arranged to meet them, took a boat over to Santiago, and brought home a new doggie! Oh my!
Santiago Guatemala dock Lake Atitlan
Bert at the docks in Santiago.
Bert on the boat with the new doggie!
But wait! There's more!
Yep. Preggers. As in, puppies on the way. Soon. Like, before Xmas. 馃槻

So now I'm Googling all about pregnant dogs and making a whelping box and how to help a dog give birth. I've never done this before! It's gonna be exciting. (And messy. 馃槵)

To read more about Fantasma Animal Rescue, please visit their Facebook page here.

To donate to them using PayPal, you can use their link below. They are a very small, very dedicated group that is just getting started and have a lot of work cut out for them! Please help in any way you can. Gracias!
Our New Girl relaxing in the yard.
We will probably rename her. We already have a dog named Dulce in our extended pack (Bert's dogwalking client), so she needs to be unique!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Random Pics of San Crist贸bal de las Casas

I do what's called a "visa run" from Panajachel to somewhere in Mexico every 90 days to renew my tourist visa and be permitted to remain in Guatemala. There are ways around this type of trip but to be honest I kinda look forward to getting away. It's a nice weekend vacation, although traveling across Guatemala and Mexico can be intimidating, frustrating, dangerous, and exhausting. (Plus beautiful, exhilarating, and inspiring!)

Here are some pics from my last trip. Enjoy. 馃槉
OMG, what is on top of that chicken bus???
*ZOOMS* It's chickens! (And one turkey.) LOL
If I had to make up a motto for San Cris, it would be: Beautiful and Busy. There is always a lot going on and the town is just so super pretty. I love visiting there. (Except for the arduous 12-hour journey!)

My hotel. Great central location but hit-or-miss with the room quality.
I put all of my restaurant, attraction, and hotel reviews on Tripadvisor. Check out my review for Hotel Posada Tepeyac by clicking here.

Saturday morning I woke early and walked across town to do some shopping at Chedraui. Check out this video I took of a park along the way. It made me shake my head and smile.
(If the audio doesn't play, I'm sorry! YouTube says it's copyrighted. I'm disputing it, of course, because how could I control what music they play in a public park?  EDIT -- The jerks at EMG Music, who own the rights to the Beatles, forced me to remove the song from the video, which meant basically muting it. It was "Come Together" and it was blasting super loud in the park, which is what made this video so unexpected.)

After shopping and returning my parcels to my room, I wandered around town looking for a shuttle to Chamula. Ended up at the HUGE crazy-busy market where I finally spotted my ride and happily toured off out of town for a few hours.
If you missed yesterday's post about Chamula...what the heck??? Geez, go back and read it right now. It's awesome!  馃槣 

Near the market, reading all the minivans that go by, trying to find one to Chamula!
There are a LOT of colectivos in San Cris. Whew!
They were having a graffiti contest around the big cathedral. Early morning, it looked like this.
Later in the day, it looked like this!
More awesome graffiti.
Beautiful art!
What did I tell you about busy? I love that there are so many pedestrian-only roads. It's super fun!
San Cris at dusk, so pretty.
So I mentioned that I booked a shuttle with Magic Travel to go from Panajachel to San Crist贸bal de las Casas (and back). Well, they kinda forget the "back" part!
On Sunday morning, I was out bright and early on the street corner waiting to be picked up to go home. Well, I waited in vain! No one showed.
I checked the business card that I had (with incredible foresight) tucked in my purse and decided to walk over to the shuttle agency's office in San Cris, which luckily wasn't too far. (In San Cris, shuttles are handled Tierra Maya, not Magic Travel.) But their office was closed! Hmm...
I went back to my hotel and asked to use their computer and internet. I got on Facebook and messaged Magic Travel back in Guate. They called me on my cell phone almost immediately and tried their very best to get me connected to a ride home, but alas, it was too late. I told them I would be okay to stay another night and get a shuttle in the morning.
NOTE: Magic Travel did all they could and were extremely helpful. It was NOT their fault, but the fault of Tierra Maya Travel in San Crist贸bal de las Casas. Magic Travel actually gave me a refund for one way, Q250. I will continue to use their services as everyone at the office was so awesome and also very patient with my horrible Spanish.
So... what to do with an extra day in San Crist贸bal de las Casas? Walk around and take pictures of random stuff! Yay!!

The sidewalks of San Cris make me feel like I'm in a video game -- step up, step down, dodge left, step up, dodge right, step down. RAMP! Plus the cobblestones are worn so smooth they are slippery. Be careful out there. 馃槰
A payphone? Total relic. I wonder if kids are confused by this.
Nice little river going thru town.
Doggie doorknocker. I need one of these!!
Solem statue dude overseeing the city.
Abandoned well. AWESOME.
Yes, I peered down it. It was full of trash.
The building that was near the well.
I love the pale mystical sun rays in this pic. *Cue the choir of angels*
I find myself constantly marveling, "It's November." Pinch me!
Okay, so you're like, "Huh?" Number one: Cinnamon Frosted Flakes? YUMMY! Number two: the price tag on the shelf was digital. Very cool technology.
It seems in Mexico is a lot like Guatemala in that they love a good parade! I was outside my hotel on Sunday afternoon when this commotion passed me by. I absolutely LOVE the inflated inner-tube costumes! So clever.

View from the third-floor balcony of my hotel. The receptionist who led me up here said these were "traditional houses" and pointed out the peach tree and lime tree below.
This is called papel picado, literally "pecked paper". On the ceiling of the taqueria where I ate dinner.
Nighttime in San Crist贸bal is a treat! (Sorry for blurriness.)
Who needs Walt Disney World when you can find Mickey and Minnie on the streets of San Cris!
If I could have found a bench to sit on (ouchies sore feet from walking), I would have stayed in the square for hours just watching the excitement. As it was, I took a brief video and a slow limp around the walkways and then headed back to my hotel for a sleep.

Monday morning, I was outside waiting for my shuttle at 6:40 am. Tired, cold, nervous. At 8:00 am, I called Magic Travel in Guatemala to tell them there was no shuttle. I was alternating between anger and slight panic. About 10 minutes later, a guy walks up the street with a paper in his hand. "Cristal?" Huge sigh of relief. "Si! Soy yo!" (Yes, that's me!)
We walked almost two blocks to get to where he had parked the van. Is this what had happened the morning before? He just couldn't find me? I didn't ask. I just settled into my seat and zoomed on home.
Early morning waiting for my shuttle. Again.
Suddenly... horse parade!! Outside the Mexican immigration office at the border where you get your passports stamped. (Mesilla)
A warning to travelers: one of the Guatemalan "officials" in the migration office at La Mesilla asked for a fee of Q25 from many passengers on my shuttle. They didn't know better, so the paid. The guy didn't ask me, probably because he noticed all the in and out visa stamps and figured I would know that there is no fee.

What to do? First of all, deny them. Tell them there is no free to enter Guatemala. "No hay tarifa para ingresar a Guatemala."
If they insist and they are holding your passport, ask them for a receipt. "Quiero un recibo." They won't be able to provide one and will most likely back down.

As always, thanks for reading and for your kind comments! See ya next time. 馃槉