Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tiendas in Panajachel

Tiendas (tee-EN-dahs) are Guatemala's version of the 7-Eleven, only with shorter hours and, sadly, no Slurpees. They are so many of these corner stores here in Pana, it's hard to walk more than 40 steps without finding one! It seems every Guatemalan wants to open a store. I have no idea how their businesses are sustainable.

But it's good news for those who have cravings or just don't feel like going all the way to the market or grocery store. I can walk just a few meters down my street to the tienda and pick up chips, chocolate bars, candies, gum, ice cream, cookies, pop (soda), beer, liquor, plus staples like eggs, sugar, flour, canned beans, oil, salt, and coffee. Most tiendas also carry toilet paper, shampoo, Aleve (weirdly prevalent here), purified water, garbage bags, and cleaning supplies. Some stores have dog and cat food in bulk. Many will have fresh-baked buns hidden in a basket under a cloth, plus tomatoes, onions, and whatever fruit is in season. If you see a fridge, open it up and you'll find sausages, ham, chicken, cheese, and cream. So, yeah, basically everything you could want!

Going into a tienda can seem a bit overwhelming at first. The small room will be overflowing with items, cases stacked on the floor and items hanging from the ceiling. It's often dark. There are no prices. There may or may not be a clerk present. He might be sitting on a stool behind the counter playing on his iPhone, or she might be in the back and come out with a baby nursing on her breast and a toddler clinging to her skirt. Many times the tiendas are simply the converted front room to a family's house, so you can get a sneak peek into their lives through the curtain. 😊

tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
A free-standing tienda in Jucanya. 
The most important thing I've learned from shopping in tiendas in Guatemala is if you can't see what you're looking for, just ask. The store owners know where everything is, much like I know where to find anything on my cluttered desk! 😁
tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
Having brooms in a pop crate is pretty much a requirement of any good tienda.
Tiendas each get a name. The most common I've seen are "Esquina" (corner) or "Bendición" (blessing). One of my favourites is "Tienda Paraiso" (paradise) that's on the Jucanya side of the yellow bridge. Some of them use the word abarroteria, which means grocery store.

The stores are also plastered with advertisements about the products they sell. The delivery guys must dump the posters on them in bulk! Some bigger companies will even make your store a big banner with your name on it.
tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
The tienda across from Despensa in Panajachel. The banner on the left is pretty worn so they got a new one from Dorada Ice beer company. Sweet!
tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala abarroteria
This one doesn't have room for signs so they handpainted what they sell -- home products, sausages, dairy products, basic grains, and good cold water and beer.
I'm not sure what "concentrado para perros y gatos" is though. Concentrated WHAT for dogs and cats?
tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala Intermedio Jucanya
This is Intermedio, a landmark in Jucanya. It's quite large inside and has paper products, a photocopier, and lots of housewares in addition to food, booze, snacks, and bathroom supplies.
When I lived in Jucanya, the Intermedio is where I'd go when I didn't want to walk over to the Despensa in Pana. Things are a teensy bit more expensive but it's worth it when you don't feel like going too far. They even have sliced bread! (That's rare, just so ya know.)

tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
Nicely organized tienda with the most important thing -- ice cream! -- right out front.
But wait, that's not a good idea! The sun is gonna melt them. 😩
tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
There are some truly talented artists in Pana. They painted the soap logo (Ariel) in amazing detail on this tienda.

tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
This one is a bit intimidating. I think they may need to get rid of some of the cases of empty bottles!
Also on the left, there is a big stack of eggs in pale green trays. Just sitting out.
(P.S. No one refrigerates eggs in Guatemala. But to have them out like that where they could get broken is a little bit odd. Usually they're behind the counter.)
tienda corner store Panajachel Guatemala
This is the front of the store that is shown in the video below.
 As I was waiting for the guy to weigh my dog food, I took the 30-second video below. It's quite dark -- cuz that's tiendas for you! I narrated it so you can understand what you're looking at.

To sum up: I love tiendas! The only downside is that unscrupulous clerks will attempt to charge you more than the item is worth. But that's kinda like any corner store. They're allowed to overcharge you for the convenience, right? I just wish they had prices listed on the stuff so I would know when I was getting ripped off. I tend to avoid any store where I think they're giving me the gringo price.
There are two tiendas close to our new house. One sells dog food for 50 centavos cheaper than anywhere else I've been, and the other has Peanut Butter M&Ms. Or at least they do for now until I buy them all! Ha!

1 comment :

  1. Love your posts, Cristel... so real, makes me feel I'm back in Pana. - Tony F.