Thursday, October 26, 2017

Power-Free Day

Yesterday was a day with no power. The electric company schedules an entire day where they shut off the main transmission center to work on all the lines at once. It's very inconvenient for someone like me who works online! But it also offers me an opportunity to get my butt out of my desk chair and get stuff done. Having just moved to a new house, there was plenty of work. But we also just enjoyed hanging out in our lovely garden.

Sparrows chillin' on our fence. They're not shy at all. Didn't even flinch when I poked my head out the window to take this picture.
Exploring our garden shed. So much stuff!
Old paints. Like really old.
Cami, our foster pup. Such a cutie!
Bert took the camera and followed Noodles around as he played in the yard.
This is him inside the Super Tube!
So much thick green grass to play on. We all love the garden!
Noodles' bicolour eyes are so cool. 
Bert getting all artistic and stuff. 😎
Noodles and Queso ran rampant around the yard until they were exhausted. Rui even played with them for a bit! Bert and I raked up some leaves and trash, hung up laundry, emptied garbages, and then sat in the garden and chatted while the wind blew like crazy all around us. There is a big pine tree not far from us and we both noticed how the wind thru the needles sounded "like home".
We have a guava tree. Not sure I'm fond of guava though.
Cool little bug-dude. He must be a superhero of bugs, with that cape! 😁
Pretty tiny fowers on a shrub.
Huge double hibiscus flowering tree that is climbing up our house.
Cami hates kites!! The kids were flying one over our house and she was barking at it. Too cute!
As with every previous power outage day, I didn't get everything done that I had planned, but I also thoroughly enjoyed my time. Dare I say that I look forward to these days? 😊

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'm Not Made of Sugar

Yesterday afternoon, around 2:30, Bert and I were getting our act together to go to the store. We stepped out into the yard and felt the first drops of rain fall. We said, "Hmm, let's wait until it passes." Good thing we did! It downpoured for TWO HOURS! :D

When it was letting up a bit, I went out into our awesome new garden and took some pictures with my amazing waterproof camera. (Thanks again, Mom and Dad!) The cats sat on the step watching me with confused faces.

Sheltering under the big leaf!
When it truly stopped raining, we got our butts in gear and went to the store. Our feet got soaked from the water running down the streets and puddling everywhere. There's not much in the way of gutters or drainage systems on most streets here.
On the way home, I took this short video of the river, and then the photo below that I took just outside the gate of our house.

Notice the guy standing in the river on the bottom right!
The rainy season is coming to an end but there will probably be a few more stormy days for me to enjoy the greenery, the clouds, and the amazing sunsets. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bert Goes Motorcycling in the Guatemalan Highlands

NJP bought a new motorcycle so he let Bert use his old one so they could go on a cruise around this side of Lake Atitlan. They started in Panajachel, through Santa Catarina Palopó, out to San Antonio Palopó. Then a minor emergency brought them back to NJP's apartments in Jucanya but after that, they went up through Godinez to... who knows where. Bert has no idea and a map isn't helping! He says they were near some town that sounded like Pacman. LOL!
Anyhoo, here's a few photos he took when they stopped. Wish there were more!
Lake Atitlan Guatemala Lago Atitlán
Geez, be more beautiful, why don't you, Lake Atitlan???
Lake Atitlan Guatemala Lago Atitlán
It's neat to see Cerro de Oro from this angle. (That little mini volcano on the right.)
Lake Atitlan Guatemala Lago Atitlán
One of the docks is underwater. By design? Who knows!
Lake Atitlan Guatemala Lago Atitlán
From high up on the ridge. Afternoon clouds moving in over the Toliman and Atitlan volcanoes.
black vulture Guatemala
Black vulture looking all ominous and stuff.
I just chatted with NJP and he said the second leg of the trip was, "To San Andrés (Semetabaj), El Mirador, and Godinez. On the way back, we drove the other side of the ridge and went through Las Cruces, back down the steep hill to San Andrés and back to Pana." Very cool.
Bert said earlier, "What a hardship. I have to get up early to go for a motorcycle ride." 😁

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Price of Happiness

You don't believe money can buy happiness? You're wrong! So wrong!
Here is how much it costs to buy several days of happiness in Panajachel, Guatemala.
What? So cheap??
Yeah, it's the price of a 1-pound jar of peanut butter!  😁

But not so cheap compared to back home. Here's the price comparison:
1 lb Jif peanut butter in Panajachel = Q40.25 = US$5.49 = CAN$6.84
1 lb Jif peanut butter from = US$3.88
500g Kraft peanut butter from = CAN$3.47

Mmmmmmm, Butter of the Peanuts!
I've blogged about this before. Yes, you can buy pretty much any "gringo" or "first-world" or "American" thing here in Pana, but you're gonna pay for it. Chalo's has some imported foods, and Sandra's has even more. If you go to the nearest cities -- Xela or Antigua -- you can go to Walmart and other branded stores and find even more stuff at a little bit better prices.

But what do you do when you're stuck in Pana and you're craving PB? You either buy the local stuff that's not so great, or you fork out your Q for the real stuff. (But it comes with a volcano view!)

Luckily for me, NJP's tenants left some peanut butter behind when they moved out, so now I've got a bit of a treat for the next few days for free! I'm a happy camper. 😋

I snapped a picture of the peanut butter in Chalo's. There a few American brands, the B&B local brand up top, plus homemade natural peanut butter from enterprising folks around the Lake.
Chalo's Panajachel peanut butter mantequilla de maní
Peanut butter at Chalo's, in Spanish -- mantequilla de maní.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Canadian Thanksgiving In Guatemala 2017

Amazing Iva organized a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner for us and it was wonderful. Dinner was enjoyed  by Bert & I and Iva and Australian Ian, hosted by the ever-gracious NJP. Three out of five guests were Canadian so it counts!! Besides, it's nice to piggyback on other countries' holidays and hence get more turkey. We'll be doing American Thanksgiving next month, and Ian has suggested we do Australia Day in January too. 😋

Iva discovered that turkeys aren't readily available at the grocery stores around here, so she and NJP went up to Sololá and got a fresh one. I mean really fresh, like ALIVE. Ha!
Isn't it cute? Yep, still ate it. 
NJP negotiated a great deal for the turkey -- butchering, defeathering, and gutting included. Good thing too, otherwise I think we may have had a vegetarian dinner and just watched our new pet turkey run around the garden!

Iva and NJP did all the prep and cooking, and I only contributed some gigantic carrots to the meal. (I was channeling my inner university student -- come home just for real food and to do laundry. Ha!) The conversation was lively, the food was delicious, and we were all thankful for finding awesome friends in new places.
Carving the bird.
T-giving is not complete without mashed potatoes and sweet carrots.
NJP made amazing cranberries and yummy gravy, and Iva whipped up a lovely salad with balsamic vinegrette.
We are so lucky!
My plate! DELICIOUS!
I hope all my wonderful Canadian readers had a great Thanksgiving and all my other readers had a great regular weekend. Don't forget to be grateful every day for all the opportunities and adventures life presents to you. 😊

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Parades in Pana

One thing you'll learn pretty quick in Panajachel, Guatemala, is that they love parades! And since it's a small town with few streets, the whole town stops to watch ... mostly cuz they can't do anything else!
I just caught the tail end of this parade when I was heading to the grocery store yesterday. This school had different grades dressed up as Super Mario or Mario Kart characters. The trucks were playing the video game music! So cute.
We wondered if these kids know the original Mario? Or just the Kart version?
The fake mustaches were adorable. This class had real cloth hats, but another class had ones made cleverly out of paper.
Toads and Toadettes.
I think these kids are getting tired at this point. They've probably walked all the way across town!
(OMG just noticed the sweet rat-tail on the guy in the left foreground. Ha!)
Yoshis! They were super bright lime coloured. Excellent sewing work!
I think this is the bad guy?
Every parade also has to have at least one marching band. Guatemala is addicted to marching bands! Watch the video below to see the parade in action, with the marching band at the end. I chuckled a bit when I realized they were playing YMCA.

So those pics were from yesterday, Saturday. This morning there is another parade, with bigger kids and even more marching bands. Hooray. A strange thing about parades in Guatemala is no one is happy. The crowd just stands there staring silently. No cheering or clapping, and only smiles when they see someone they know.
Fancy uniforms! The dudes in the back are even wearing their chin straps on their noses... which makes no sense at all.
Not sure why this school was carrying photos of themselves.
There is always an order to the marching bands: a sign, some flags, some beauty queens, sexy dancy ladies in tall boots and short skirts, some people wearing the school uniform, then the band.
It's also kinda entertaining to see the "parade" of trucks, chicken buses, tuk-tuks, and other vehicles following slowly along behind the real parade, although I imagine the drivers are kinda miffed about the slow pace.

Between Guatemalan Independence Day on September 15th and the Pana Town Fair on October 8th (officially), it is pretty much a non-stop party here in town. It's fun, but also a bit draining. It's hard to get around town because streets are blocked off or narrowed by vendors setting up extra stalls. Lots of people come to town to visit and party. But it's all in good fun and you just gotta roll with it! (And be sure to have some churros while they last!)