Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dog Rescue in Panajachel, Guatemala

If you've been following my expat adventures, you'll know that from the first day I set foot in Guatemala I have been helping street dogs and cats. It's tough work. No matter how many you help, there are always more and more and more. It's easy to become burned out and flat broke! But I can't stop, won't stop! 😊

Because Guatemala as a country is just starting to enforce animal welfare laws and create governmental organizations to address these issues, many small charities have been operating for years here on their own. These NGOs have different views on how best to assist street dogs and cats but they all were formed with the intention to do what's best for the animals.

Today I'd like to give a shout-out to Guatemala Hope for the Animals, which operates in Panajachel and around Lake Atitlan. They have a shelter which houses many dogs and cats available for adoption. They also assist with street dog injuries, which is so important here. If a dog gets hit by a car, no one helps it! People will literally walk right by a dog with a broken leg or one bleeding from the neck. Many Guatemalans love animals but their own lives are so hard and they are struggling with poverty themselves, they know they cannot spare anything for a dog. Luckily there are charities like Hope for the Animals that can step in and help -- with a bit of emergency fundraising to offset costs, of course.

Here are two puppies that are currently looking for homes either here in Guatemala or possibly the States or Canada.

Adorable Guatemalan street puppy for adoption.

Cutie pie puppy available for adoption in Guatemala
 Please take a moment to "like" their Facebook page here -- Guatemala Hope for the Animals. Liking their page creates more awareness!
If you can afford to donate, instructions for PayPal or bank transfer are on their page. Even a small donation can go a long way to helping street dogs and cats here in Guatemala. Food is cheap! And they always need to buy things like bleach, newspapers, blankets, dewormer medicine, and of course toys to amuse the doggies and kitties. 😀
They will soon be setting up an Instagram account to share more pictures. I will try to remember to edit this page later and link it for you all. Cheers!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Mystical Evening at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan is still so beautiful! I've been here for over four years and I can't stop staring at the majestic volcanoes, the blue water, the amazing clouds. Sunset walks with the doggies are my favourite. 😊

I was thinking of doing a "Day In My Life" post but I figured it would be incredibly boring, ha ha! I sleep in, laze around, play with my pets, go for walks, and maybe work for a few hours. Livin' the dream! 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Travel Even When You're Broke!

One of the reasons I chose to move from Canada to Guatemala is to travel more and experience new cultures and geographies. I definitely need to do more exploring! I kinda thought I would be visiting more of the nearby countries in my time here -- Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua. I need to get on that! Finding the money and the pet-sitter seems to be the hardest part.
I saw this neat article shared by Thrillist Travel and was excited to see Antigua, Guatemala, featured. Honestly, Guate is so cheap and such a neat experience. I recommend it to anyone tired of all-inclusive resorts and too touristy locations. Come here and see something different. It gets in your soul!
How to Travel When You're Broke As A Joke

Paraglider over Lake Atitlan and Tolimán volcano
The above picture is what I see whenever I walk out my front door. Why would I travel? Ha ha! But honestly, my visa trips to Mexico every three months are getting a bit routine. I need to plan for a more adventurous holiday soon. 😊

Friday, August 16, 2019

Guatemala -- Also A Place

A friend shared this on Facebook and it is hilarious! It is by comedian Arturo Castro of Comedy Central. I couldn't find the complete original to share so this one is a bit cut off. It should start with the words, "Imagine a place..."

I would like to also add that Guatemala is waaaaaaaay cheaper than Costa Rica. So plan your trip today! And say HI to me if you see me in Panajachel. 😄

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Paragliding at Lake Atitlan and Spanish Listening Practice

I came across this neat video on YouTube of a Guatemalan traveler who went paragliding at Lake Atitlan recently. This is an activity that I would never do. Never ever ever. Sorry! You're never gonna see a video of me jumping off a cliff! So I'm sharing this video so you can see what it's like and see some amazing vistas of Lake Atitlan, the volcanoes, and the scenery.

But there is another reason for this post -- I'd like you to try to understand his Spanish! And then maybe sympathize with poor me who is trying to learn this language in my 40s! I think he is a ciudadano, a person from the city, and they speak faster than the local people here in Panajachel. That is because Spanish is most likely his first language, whereas many of the locals here are indigenous and they learn their Mayan language first, then Spanish, and then sometimes English. So that makes it actually easier to communicate with indigenous people because they are learning Spanish too and so they speak slowly and simply.

If you're not interested in the real-life Spanish lesson, then just watch this video for the awesome visuals. He actually doesn't even fly until the last 3 minutes of the video. Before that, he visits the nature reserve, talks about the history of paragliding, and chats with the instructor. Skip ahead to 14:00 if you just wanna see him fly!

The funniest part is that I didn't know what his channel name was and had to translate it. He is Traveling Walrus! And near the end of the video, he says, "A walrus is not made to fly but without a doubt, he loves it." So cute!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Another Fun Xela Xopping Xuttle

If you know Spanish, you probably got a mild chuckle out of this blog's title. If you don't know Spanish, you probably went, "Huh?"
See, the letter X in Spanish sounds like SH. So xopping xuttle is my Spanglish joke for "shopping shuttle"!
And in case you're new to my blog (or Guatemala geography), Xela is the common name for the city of Quetzaltenango. Xela is pronounced "sheh-lah" and Quetzaltenango is pronounced "ket-sahl-ten-AN-go". Or close enough. 😊

So what does this all mean? It just means that a bunch of friends and I rented a private minivan & driver and went on a shopping spree in the nearest big city. We went to a MALL. Gasp! 😲

The new(ish) Utz Ulew mall in Xela.
Our first stop was the Utz Ulew Mall near 19th ave and 3a street in zone 3. I had chosen this stop for a very important reason -- Dollar City! And it was sooooo worth it. 😁 I bought so much good stuff and would definitely make a trip back there just to shop more. Dollar City is the Latin American partner of Dollarama, an awesome dollar store in Canada. Everything even had Dollarama price stickers on it. It was heaven!

Next stop was the usual mall we visit, Pradera Mall, that has a nice Walmart. But food lunch in the food court!

McDonald's for me and Panda Express for my friend. Delish!
Bert had a HUGE Taco Bell combo. He couldn't finish it. 😋
It's actually exciting to have McD's and Taco Bell when we go to the city cuz we just don't have that option in Pana. Tastes "from home" are kinda comforting, even if it is junk.
For people who care about prices, Bert's giant combo was Q45 and my McNifica Doble combo was Q47.

We all picked up a few more things at Walmart before heading to our last stop, a store called Cemaco. I had never been to one before and I was impressed! It was a huge store with tons of items for the whole home, plus tools, paint, pet stuff, gardening, and lots more. It was pricier than Walmart but better quality.

Inside Cemaco in Xela
The signs are in Spanish with a local Mayan dialect beneath. I think it's K'iche.
After Cemaco, we were totally wiped out. We had arrived in Xela at 10am and it was about 3:30 when we left. Whew! The drive home flew by as we chatted in the van and soon we were all home unpacking our loot. 😄

The cost? Our shuttle was Q750 roundtrip, which is a good deal. I've heard quotes of Q800 or Q900 normally. We split the cost between everyone who comes, which works out to be more reasonable.

One note: you are expected to pay for any parking costs, of course, and you are also expected to pay for the driver's lunch. That second part was news to me. 

But just so you know, taking the chicken bus is way cheaper, if you can handle it. A trip from Pana to Xela is only about Q50 per person return trip. But chicken buses are not so much fun and you don't get a private driver to take you all over town and a nice van to pile all your attractive purchases into when you're done. 

So that was my Saturday. I hope you had a great weekend too. Catch ya next time! 😊
Goofing off in the mall
Xela is Guatemala's second-largest city with a population of about 160,000. You're like, "What? That's a BIG city?" I know, right? But get this: Guatemala City has a population of over 2 million. Everyone lives there. And Xela is waaaaaay behind with only 160,000 peeps.
And then there's Panajachel, where I live, with only 20,000 people. Pretty darn small.
So taking a trip to the "big city" is a fun way to spend time with friends and shop for things that are harder to find at Lake Atitlan. It only takes about 2 hours to get there too, so you can easily get there and back in daylight hours.

More fun facts:
Pana's elevation is 5,240 ft or 1,597 meters
Xela's elevation is 7,650 ft or 2,330 meters
So on our ride, we went up in altitude by about another 2,410 feet or 733 meters! Wow! This actually makes me experience a little bit of altitude sickness, which kinda just feels like a hangover -- headache, irritability, hot flashes, tiredness. But I know to expect it, so I fight it off with ibuprofen and caffeine! 😆

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Making Chili

You would think that something as simple as making a pot of chili would be easy. But, no, we're in Guatemala! Chili isn't much of a thing here, although we expats are trying to get our local friends addicted to it by bringing it to every potluck. (Right, Iva?) 😊

First things first: beans. Well, I know from experience that cooking rock-hard beans for four hours on my gas stove makes them only slightly less rock-hard. Waste of gas! And finding a can of beans is almost impossible. But then I noticed this huge bizarre package of beans next to the dried ones at Despensa. It says they're whole precooked beans. I had to try it!

Here is the video I made on opening this weird plastic thing.

So that was successful, if unexpected! I tasted the beans right then and they were soft and salty and slightly spiced.

I then added a pound of cooked chorizo sausage, canned mushrooms, a chopped onion, a shredded carrot for vitamins, tomato sauce, and various spices. Less than an hour later, we had hot spicy yumminess. 😋

bowl homecooked chili
Homemade chili, yum!
For those who are interested in prices:
large can of mushrooms Q13
1 lb of chorizo Q9
big bag o' beans Q17
2 large spaghetti sauce bags = Q12
a carrot, an onion, and spices = Q1?

So the total cost to make was about Q52, which is CDN $8.88 or USD $6.75.

I used chorizo cuz we had some in the fridge. Ground beef is quite a bit more expensive, about Q24 a pound (or more), which is around CDN$4.10 or USD$3.11. The price would have gone up significantly. Substituting sausage or chicken for beef is just one of the many ways I adapt recipes to adjust for prices here in Guatemala. The other is not adding cheese.... wahh!! 😭

But on the bright side, after dinner I went for a stroll to the store and got a delicious creamsicle for only Q3 or about 51¢ Canadian or 39¢ American. Ha! 😁

Monday, July 15, 2019

Reverse Culture Shock! My Trip To Canada

I finally got to go home to Canada for a visit after more than four years away! Thank you a million times to my awesome sisters for buying my plane tickets!

My trip was amazing and I got to do so many fun things with my family, including Canada Day (July 1), my parent's 50th wedding anniversary party, and my mom's birthday!
Flying over Guatemala City. So pretty from above!
Reverse culture shock is a real thing...although to me it was just kinda silliness rather than stressfulness. I felt a bit out of place but adapted quickly back into Canadian ways, although I spoke Spanish a couple times by mistake!

I've compiled a list of my Top 10 reverse culture shock experiences.

1. Canadians really are super polite. I miss that so much in Guate! In Canada, everyone truly does apologize all the time, no joke. A lady said sorry for almost bumping into me at the Dollarama. A driver and I got in a politeness battle over who would go thru the four-way stop first. And a man held open a door for me!!! omg crazy!

2. Canadians have hilarious accents. Mine is not strong, but a lot of the folks that live in my hometown have pretty thick accents. I tried very hard not to giggle. "Hey, Don. I herdja put a noo fence in da back fordee, eh?"

3. I love sidewalks. And parking spots and painted lines on the road and drivers who (mostly) obey the law.

4. Mosquitos are deadly to your health and sanity. I'd forgotten how many biting insects there are in Canada.

5. Cheese! OMG I ate so much cheeeeeeese! Dairy products are about three times more expensive in Guate. Gotta love Canadian dairy.

6. Canada is SO BIG. There is so much space. So much empty land...well, not empty really. It's full of trees and rocks and bugs, but I mean, honestly, why don't more people move there? Canada has room galore!

7. Houses are vacuum sealed. I kept opening all the windows at every house I stayed at. I guess I didn't realize how much I live in the outdoors in Guatemala. My windows and doors are always open and when they're closed, they're really still kinda open cuz there's no need to seal around the windows or use insulation. Canadian homes are airtight!

8. Everyone looks rich. They all have nice cars and fancy houses and clean clothes. But I know they're all probably drowning in debt and working 44+ hours a week at jobs they hate.

9. There are no stray dogs. Like NONE. I kept approaching people who were walking their dogs just to say hello and pet them. The dogs, not the people. I got some strange looks. I missed the chuchos of Guatemala so much!

10. Canadians think setting off fireworks is only for Canada Day. LOL! 😆

Canada Day fireworks in my Northern Ontario hometown.
My little sister was so great at helping me complete my Canadian Bucket List! She picked me up at the airport with a bag of dill pickle chips all ready for me to devour!! I ate as many Canadian foods as I could stuff in my mouth over the two weeks. I had poutine, butter tarts, root beer, blueberries, cherries, that weird yellow puffy corn treat that tastes like air and oil and butter, real hamburgers on the BBQ, perogies, Great Canadian Bagel, President's Choice products, and my favourite -- my Dad's maple syrup on pancakes! Plus I had Tim Horton's, like, almost every time I passed one, which is a lot. Iced Capps and Timbits and donuts, oh my!

A Timmy's Ice Capp and Lake Simcoe. Sweet bliss!
I swam in Lake Huron (c-c-c-cold) and Lake Simcoe (warmer).
I went an awesome boat ride across the lake to go for dinner, cuz that's how we roll. Or float, rather.
I walked around in daylight at 9 pm. (I miss the long summer nights!)
I heard a train!!!
I smelled campfires that were made of real wood, not garbage.
I saw chickadees and bluejays and cardinals and seagulls and crows and white-throated sparrows (the O Canada bird) and six squirrels on one lawn.

Please forgive the excessive amount of exclamation marks in this post. It was just really such a great trip and I smiled my face off the whole time.
Some of my backyard at my parent's house with beautiful irises in my Mumsy's garden.
But now you're probably I going to move back?
I definitely want to visit my home country more, but I love Guatemala and it suits my lifestyle much better than Canada does. Guatemala is beautiful, warm, and inexpensive. My life is better here. Plus I have my whole family of pets to think of!

And when I finally got back to Panajachel after 19 hours of travel, I had such a huge smile on my face. That's a pretty good sign that I'm living in the right place. 😁

Friday, June 14, 2019

Election Time in Guatemala

I will fully admit that I have no clue about politics in Guatemala -- or any other country really. I've never been a big fan of that kind of stuff. But for the past couple of months, it has been impossible to ignore the upcoming elections.
Things are done a bit differently here than back home in Canada. Let me break it down from a foreigner's point of view.
A political sign near my house. (Plus a stormy sky!)
1. Election advertising is everywhere. It involves a lot of posters on everything from light poles to rock cliffs to tuc-tucs to literally painted on the walls of people's houses. Those cute little lawn signs from Canada are non-existent here. Also, the signs usually have a big X thru the party logo. This looks very strange to me but it's because that's what it will look like on the ballot. You put your X thru the party you're voting for.

2. Election campaigning is LOUD. They have election vehicles. It's usually a truck with a loudspeaker attached to the top of it, and sometimes people riding in the back waving flags. There is a recording of the political party's message playing over the loudspeaker at FULL VOLUME. These trucks roam around town, up and down the streets, from sunrise to sunset. And the fun part is...there are multiple trucks for different campaigns! It gets to be quite the cacophony. (My personal favorite though is the VIVA party. They have the catchiest music.) Why do they do this? I think it's probably due to the lack of televisions. Getting people's attention and spreading the word is not done on TV because not everyone has one. Instead, they go straight to your eardrums at your home and work.

3. Political rallies look like fun! A political party will rent out the football (soccer) stadium and have hot dogs and balloons and a marching band. Loads of people will gather together wearing the party's shirt with logo, waving flags & signs, and blowing noisy plastic horns. Then they all get in their decorated vehicles and drive around town together! It's a riot. Check out this video I made today. The white party (I think it was UCN) was taking over the stadium and main street and the green party (who knows who they were) were on the main street in Jucanya.

4. There are a LOT of parties, like more than 20. The most common ones I see advertising and campaigning have short names like UNE, Fuerzo, Viva, Todos, and Vamos. They mean (roughly translated) --  one, strong, live, together, and let's go. The official party names are much longer but my perception is that they use shorter names because of the low literacy rate in Guatemala, plus the multitude of native languages. Easier to remember UNE as opposed to Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza.

5. People vote on multiple candidates for different positions, all at one time. Once they have voted, they get indelible ink on their right index finger. That way they can't vote twice. A common visual on posters for elections is a happy person holding up an ink-stained index finger. GO HERE for a breakdown of the voting process.

6. The first set of elections is Sunday, June 16th. Then there is a second round in August when the two candidates for President who have the most votes go head-to-head. Kinda weird.

7. The absolute strangest thing about elections in Guatemala? NO DRINKING! For the whole weekend, no liquor is allowed to be sold from stores or bars. What? Why???

I am glad that Guatemala is a democracy and seems to be heading in a progressive direction, despite ongoing problems with corruption. I am happy that so many Guatemaltecos are excited to vote! 💙Viva Guatemala!💙

→ For more detailed information on candidates, parties, and controversy, head over to this Wikipedia article on the 2019 Guatemalan election.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Little Bit O' Rain

When they talk about rainy season in Guatemala, they're not kidding!

Here is a video I took of the river in Panajachel a few minutes after a big rainstorm just passed. Crazy!

For comparison purposes, here is a picture of "Bert" crossing the river just the day before the storm. Pretty tame, right?

And here is a video I got from the local news channel of the waterfall that is about halfway up the hill between Pana and Sololá. There are reports from all over this area of landslides (derrumbes) and flooding.

The bonus to all this? The hills are so lush and green right now. It's gorgeous. Plus our lawn has grown back with a vengeance and is about a foot high, with flowers blooming everywhere. :D

Monday, June 3, 2019

Want to Run a Hostel in Guatemala?

A friend of mine here at Lake Atitlan has been running a cute little hostel called The Hummingbird. It is a small town called Tzununá. She loves it here but would like to go back to Europe for a while and she needs someone to manage the hostel -- with an option to buy if the right person comes along and falls in love with the place. (Like she did!)
Relaxing at Hummingbird Hostel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Hummingbird Hostel is the full package and already has great reviews on Airbnb. This could be a fantastic opportunity for a friendly, resourceful, Zen-like person to move to Guatemala and have a business ready and waiting for them.

Please contact Katy thru one of the links below: 
Hummingbird Hostel on Facebook 
Rooms Listed on Airbnb
Hummingbird Hostel's Website

This could be the dream opportunity you've been waiting for! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

Do you take drinking water for granted? Can you turn on your tap and get sparkling clean potable water on demand? You're lucky! It might seem far-fetched to think that there are still people in the world who don't have water in their homes, but it's true. Can you believe it? I mean, we've sent people to the moon, yet here in Guatemala I still see ladies walking down to the river with jugs on their heads.
At my house in Panajachel, I have city water that comes into my property thru a pipe in the wall. Then there are two cisterns to store the water. One is below ground in the shed; the other is on the roof near the kitchen. When I turn on my tap, most days clean water comes out. It's not drinkable, but it's clear. I use it to wash dishes and my hands, I give it to the cats and dogs to drink, and I cook with it if it involves boiling, like for pasta or soup. Drinking water comes in a garrafon, a 5-gallon jug of purified water. I buy the expensive brand, Salvavidas, for Q17 because it tastes better but I know you can get it cheaper.

This morning, however, there is what my tap water looks like. 😝

muddy tap water Guatemala
Water from my tap this morning, icky!
This is irritating but not uncommon. It's happened to me a few times here, especially during the rainy season when the heavy downpours kick up the mud. I went down to my pila (outdoor sink) to see if the water there was any better, but there actually wasn't any water at all coming thru the city pipes, so no luck there. It will come on again later, I'm sure.

By coincidence, a friend shared a post on Facebook this morning about poor Guatemalan families who only have access to rainwater for drinking, cooking, and bathing. I am happy to share the webpage of a small charity that is providing water filters, stoves, and other essential supplies to families in need here in Guatemala. They are The Ripple Effect. Their website says: "Unfortunately, 13% of all deaths are due to dysentery. Clean water, continued hygiene education and better nutrition would greatly improve quality of life." I applaud their work and hope you can take a moment to visit their website and read about them, and perhaps consider a donation. Thanks!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fruit in Bags [VIDEO]

I absolutely love that I can get precut fruit in a bag from a vendor on the street! They should have snacks this like in every city all over the world. So refreshing and healthy.

Mango is my favourite, ripe or green, but I also get cantaloupe melon slices a lot or a salty/spicy mix cucumbers and radishes when I want veggies. A bag of fruit is usually Q5. Smaller bags can be as cheap as Q1, which is what I pay for a few tiny slices of raw coconut from the old lady who sells near the soccer field.

Disfruta! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Sharing A Great Video of Lake Atitlan

I had to share this awesome 10-minute video of Lake Atitlan and Panajachel! The drone footage is spectacular. For any family & friends who haven't visited me here yet, this might be the thing to make you finally decide to book your flight. 🛫

Visit their channel on YouTube to see more cool videos of their travels 👉 Our Million Adventures

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Why Not Party?

I knew there had to be something going on this weekend as there has been an increase in loud fireworks activity. I can even hear right now a loud concert with marimbas playing in the far distance. I figured out what it was when Cafe Kitsch posted this video below!

This is what they said on Facebook:
"Haciendo la recepción respectiva del convite Femenino en Honor a la Virgen Maria Auxiliadora, es un honor tener a estas damas tradicionalistas de la cultura Panajachelense. Bienvenidas al Lugar mas Kitsch de Panajachel. Saludos."

"By making the respective reception of the women's parade in Honor of the Virgin Mary Help of Christians, it is an honor to have these traditional ladies of the Panajachelense culture. Welcome to the most Kitsch place in Panajachel. Best regards."

Here's a photo I found of a closeup of one of the masks. I find them creepy!! What do you think?

Guatemala can be really weird sometimes.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Most Incredible Wall Art

Many towns in Guatemala and Mexico have decorated the cement walls in their public streets with beautiful murals in many artistic styles. But this recently-completed work of art in Panajachel is the best I've ever seen!

My friend, Cynthia C., has been documenting the artist's progress and recently posted these photos on her Facebook. She is allowing me to share them here with you...which is great because when I went to see the mural in person, my camera's battery happened to be dead!

"Pachamama" by artist Glen David Colom Maldonado
"Pachamama" by artist Glen David Colom Maldonado
The picture is beautiful but it cannot do justice to the real thing. For one, there are three-dimensional elements in the art. See that eye in the top right, in the spiral of light? It's 3D! Also, the art is huge, as you can see from this picture of the artist, Glen David Colom Maldonado.

Artist Glen David Colom Maldonado painting "Pachamama" wall art
Glen David Colom Maldonado, artist, painting "Pachamama" wall art in Panajachel, Guatemala
You can see how big the painting is next to him. His work is simply incredible. I stood there for several minutes letting my eyes wander over the details. I love the mystical turtle that the goddess is riding on. I smiled at the strange little masked dude on her back. The chakras, quetzal bird, and surrounding vine frame add to this wonderful composition.

Cynthia spoke with the artist and shared this information: "Glen was not commissioned or paid to do this incredible work, telling me the mural is 'for the people.' Mother Earth is central to the Mayan religion; she is giving and loving and expects to be cared for in return."

If you are in Panajachel, you can find the mural at the blue star on the map below. Glen's work is also featured at two restaurants in Antigua: Samsara and Wachuma.

Location of Pachamama mural in Panajachel, Guatemala
When I have a few spare moments, I'd like to go out -- with a fully charged camera battery -- and take photos of the other murals in Pana. I've shown you guys pictures of some of them before, but others have recently been completed and are worth sharing. Soon!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

One Minute

After the past few heavy posts, here is a bit of a breather! The lovely Lake Atitlan.


I took this video the day we found the abandoned kittens. It was about 85°F (29°C) and a beautiful cool breeze was coming off the Lake. Love this place! 💜

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Trip To A Guatemalan Walk-In Clinic

I am currently reading "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". I think one habit should be "don't fall on your face!" 😄

Yesterday afternoon I was coming home from taking the wee kittens to the vet. I was rushing into the house, trying to fend off overly happy dogs, when I felt something catch against my ankles -- a pole? -- and then I was falling fast. I saw very clearly the wooden stair coming up at my face. BAM!!

There's always that moment after an accident -- and I've had many -- where you're just trying to breathe. Pain was exploding from my right eye. Blood was pouring off my face, and as fast as it was hitting the tile floor, the dogs were licking it up (little savages). I was hyperventilating and just saying "oh" over and over. After a few minutes, my brain started sidestepping around the biggest pain and began assessing other damage. Both knees hurting, both hands hurting, left shoulder hurting but not right. Blood, more blood, running like hot thick tears over my face.

I dug my phone out of my pocket. I called Rob a half a dozen times in a row, no answer. I called Pete, no answer. Iva, no answer. I started again, Rob, Pete, answer. Damn. Where is everyone? I was scrolling thru my contact list when Pete called me back with his customary cheerful, "Hey, what's up?" I said, "I'm hurt. I need someone to take me to a hospital or something." Pete, my hero, says without hesitation that he's on his way.

Well, new problem. My front gate is locked and Pete won't be able to get in. So that means I have to get up off the floor and get outside to meet him. It's then that I realize the kittens are sitting next to me in their cat carrier! I was so worried that I had squished them when I fell, but I knew I was in no shape to check on them now so I put them in the bedroom. Then I grabbed a washcloth to press to my aching eyeball and I went out my front gate. Woof, just that short distance made me soooo dizzy! I sat down on the ground outside my gate to wait for Pete.

Just then, my neighbour came strolling out of his house. He took one look at me and said, "Are you okay? Do you need an ambulance?" (In Spanish, of course.) I said that I was okay and my friend was coming. He asked if I fell and I said yes. Then he asked something else about my house and I just repeated that I was okay and my friend was coming. It is really hard to speak a foreign language when you're injured, I tell ya! The nice guy waited next to me until Pete showed up on his bike with his girlfriend, Victoria.

Luckily for us, a tuc-tuc was passing by, which is super rare on my gravel road that goes basically nowhere. We flagged him down and Victoria got in with me to go to the emergency clinic. We had a few moments of confusion when I couldn't remember what it was called, and Pete was saying stuff in Spanish, but soon enough we were bouncing off down the road towards help.

For those in Panajachel who don't know where the walk-in clinic is, here is a map and a streetview of it. It looks like a daycare. There is kids play equipment out front and a rose garden. But there is an attendent on duty 24/7 for medical emergencies. If there is no doctor at the time, they will get you an ambulance up to the hospital in Sololá.

Centro de Salud in Panajachel, Guatemala
Map of Panajachel showing Centro de Salud (emergency clinic)
We walked into the Centro de Salud not knowing what to expect. None of us had been there before. I only knew about it because an American friend had gone there once. There was a small waiting area with chairs and benches. There were only two or three people waiting. In another room was the reception desk. I sat while Pete and Victoria talked to the desk. I think it was less than 10 minutes and we were called in. Wow, short waiting time! We walked into the room where the reception desk was and it turned out that was the exam room and treatment room and records room and everything all in one. Behind a curtain was an exam table, where I gratefully lay down and tried to relax.

Me smiling for a Facebook photo!
Next pleasant surprise, the young doctor spoke English! He set to work cleaning the blood from my wounds while asking simple questions about what happened. He told me I had two bad cuts near my eye. (I helped him with the English words for eyelid and eyebrow.) He said I would need a few stitches.
He started getting his supplies ready when he realized he didn't have the right thread to stitch my eyelid. No worries! He just wrote out what he needed on a piece of paper and sent Pete and Victoria out to the pharmacy to get it! So funny! I found out later that P&V drove all over town looking for the right thread. I guess the doctor wanted disintegrating thread, very thin, for my eyelid, while normal stitches would be suitable for the eyebrow.

Anyway, several needle jabs and a bit of sewing and I was all fixed up! Four stitches in the eyelid (scary!) and three in the eyebrow. As he worked, another man literally held a flashlight to put more light on my face. They also started talking in Spanish about ordering some churrasco -- barbecue. Chicken or beef? It comes with tortillas and salad. Do you want coffee or juice?

When he said we were done, I got up and woozily walked to the counter. The receptionist doled out a pack of painkillers and a big bunch of amoxicillin (antibiotics). The nice doctor asked me my name and my age. Then he wrote the instructions for the pills on a paper for me and explained it to me verbally as well. I thanked him profusely and asked, "How much?" He said, "Free." WHAT??? Free emergency healthcare and meds?? Sweeeeeeet. I said to the doctor, "Gracias! Disfruta tu churrasco!" (Enjoy your barbecue!)

Another tuc-tuc home, a brief visit with the kittens, whom Rob had fed and put in their crate, and then I went straight to bed!

Thank you so much to Pete and Victoria for helping me. I owe you a cake or something! And muchisimas gracias to the great doctor at the clinic!

Scroll down if you want to see a gruesome picture of how I looked this morning!

My lovely face in the early morning light. Ewwww!
P.S. The thing I tripped over was a broom! The dogs had knocked it over and it was wedged across the doorway.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Thank You For Your Kind Words

I want to thank all the nice people who commented or wrote to me privately to tell me that they support me and that they know the only thing I care about is the animals. I know that my last post was heavy stuff. But actually, I feel relieved that I could finally tell my side.

The hardest part has been the evil people. I can't even comprehend how some people can come up with the mean things they say. Where do they find these evil thoughts? How do they justify the horrible things they say? How do they live with themselves? I mean, I could never have imagined the malicious gossip, the lies, the personal attacks. I never once thought to invent evil things to say about another person. I stick to the facts. Yes, I'm obviously an emotional person, but wouldn't you be, considering what has happened?

The worst evil thing people are saying is that these three innocent dogs died because I am a bad mother. I'm starting to cry right now just typing that. What a horrible thing to say.

Imagine this scenario, if you will.
You are a poor mother living in the slums of Detroit (or wherever). You have five children. You and your husband both work but your jobs barely pay for the necessities. This month, you chose to buy groceries for your family rather than pay the electric bill.
Then one of your daughters gets sick. You think it's just a cold, so you spend a bit of money on medicine. But she doesn't get better, she gets worse. So you take her to the free walk-in clinic. There, the overworked doctor says he wants to keep your daughter overnight. You comply and go home, leaving your daughter at the hospital.
The next day, no one calls to tell you how your daughter is doing. By late afternoon, you are so worried that you walk the mile over to the clinic to ask. The doctor says, "Oh, she just has an infection. Give her these pills and she will be fine." The nurse brings your daughter to a wheelchair. She is not better, she is worse! She can't walk. She looks at you with sad, hopeful eyes.
The nurse gives you a bill for $600. It says, "Treatment". Nothing else. You pay it, knowing that you will have to make excuses (again) to your landlord for not having the rent money. You pick up your daughter and carry her to a taxi and go home.
At home, you put your daughter in bed and give her favorite meal: grilled cheese. She eats a bit but she is so sleepy. You get her to take her pills. You kiss your child goodnight and tell her you love her.
In the morning, your daughter is dead.

Who would you blame?
The mother? For not having a clean house?
Or the doctor, for not LOOKING at your daughter and seeing how sick she was?

Would you fight?
Would you fight for your dead child even when people told you that you could go to prison for it?

And what if this happened THREE TIMES?

The unfairness of this situation is almost unbearable. I try to tell myself that I did what I could. I didn't really expect to win against the vet. But I had to try. And I had to set a precedent. Perhaps no one else had the courage to say something. Perhaps just by making a formal complaint, I have scared the vet enough that he will make changes.

My dogs are gone. My spirit is badly damaged. I don't know if I will stay in Guatemala or move somewhere else or even go home to Canada. I am still just trying to get thru it one day at a time.

But one thing has brought light into my life. Or rather three things.
Yesterday while walking home from seeing a friend, I found three abandoned kittens on the river road. I did not hesitate. Not for one millisecond. Bert stood back and watched with knowing eyes as I gathered the three tiny balls of fluff into my arms.

This is who I am. I am an animal rescuer. 

Three little kitty babies!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I'm Going to Go To Prison For This and I Don't Care

People are a bunch of assholes.

Sahara and BabyPup and Venus died last year.

I filed a denuncia (a formal complaint) against the vet, Dr. Isael Estrada, of Clinica San Martin in Panajachel, with the Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios y Zootecnistas de Guatemala. My filing said that I believed he was negligent in diagnosing and treating these three dogs, which led to their deaths.

I haven't been permitted to talk about it. I honorably stood by this rule when others spoke badly of me on  Facebook, when people sent me panicky private messages, when people approached me in person on the street. I didn't say anything in public to protect the privacy of the case.

But tonight I received the ruling and it shocked me.

It wasn't that the College sided with Dr. Isael Estrada and dismissed my case. I expected that to happen. I expected Dr. Isael Estrada to twist the facts to protect himself. I expected the College to support their vet and their reputation, and to reject the words of some unknown woman.

What shocked me is that Selaine D'Ambrosi of the AYUDA charity that I have so selflessly supported for four years LIED to the tribunal.

"4.- Que la Señora Selaine d'Ambrosi, Socio Fundador, Presidente y Directora de Ayuda para la Salud de Perros y Gatos (programa de bienestar de los animales sin fines de,lucro del Lago de Atitlán), hace constar que la Señora Cristel Gunn fue voluntaria de AYUDA como un cuidador de casa, sin embargo, la Señora Cristel Gunn fue despedida por negligencia y las condiciones precarias en las cuales tenía a los animales". "

English: 4.- That Mrs. Selaine d'Ambrosi, Founding Partner, President and Director of Help for the Health of Dogs and Cats (non-profit animal welfare program of Lake Atitlan), states that Mrs. Cristel Gunn volunteered for AYUDA as a foster parent, however, Mrs. Cristel Gunn was fired for negligence and the precarious conditions in which she had the animals. "

This is so untrue and so hurtful. They "fired" me after I had told them I wanted to file a denuncia against Dr. Isael Estrada. Selaine's husband, Harold William, sent me this message:

Dr. Isael represents Ayuda and Ayuda represents Dr. Isael.
Based on this support structure of 9+ years, the Ayuda board of directors unanimously voted to discontinue services to you.  The puppies that were brought into Thursday's clinic are the end.  Unfortunately, and even though we believe that he is not involved with your malicious actions, this same discontinuance of services applies to Rob through your relationship with him.
As a courtesy to Dr. Isael, he has been advised of your intentions in order to prepare himself...
Both he and others have been advised of slanderous remarks you have made about him and his practice.
As a courtesy to you for appreciation of past services in support of Ayuda, I am informing you that slander is taken very seriously in Guatemala.  It is punishable by prison.  Especially in the case of an extranjero non-resident attempting to jeopardize the credibility and livelihood of a Guatemalan professional and his family. 
Your call, but we hope that no more of your frivolous and attacking remarks reaches any of our ears. 
I am advising you of these things as both an officer and co-founder of Ayuda Para La Salud de Perros y Gatos.
I told them that I was filing the denuncia as a personal complaint and I wasn't involving AYUDA. Harold replied:
If you really have all these professionals who confirm that your accusations are TRUE based solely on your anecdotal information then go for it!..However, even if he was found to be guilty of your charges it does not change the fact that your public accusations are slanderous.  Which by the way, Dr. Isael has been made aware of through his own resources (including his competition) and is now considering taking formal actions against you.
Cristel, even though he would not take you back if you walked into his practice and apologized to him and his staff, given the state of things, it would seem proactive and wise to do so anyway in hopes to head off your having to go to court to defend yourself.  The case would have nothing whatsoever to do with his professionalism.  It would be about his witnesses testifying that they heard you saying explicitly damaging things about him.
And by the way, in any case which you still might want to file against him about his practices, consider this.  Besides the Pana Muni, the University, dozens of interns who have worked under him (i.e., Walter), and surely hundreds of witnesses who would be willing to stand up for him in court, the animals in question all came through your home and lived in conditions which even you have admitted were not suitable environments for the for-profit/shelter/personal (hoarding?) in which those animals took ill.
I/we do not want to see or get involved in any of this or see you get hurt.  But you threw the first stone, kept throwing them, and now he's pissed.  Hopefully, for your own sake, you have enough sense to at least attempt to make amends.  I hope you'll think seriously about this.  There's just no way you can otherwise win.
So Selaine lied to the Tribunal of Honor by saying that they "fired" me because my house was a pigsty. In reality, they shunned me because I told them I was filing a denuncia and they were scared and angry. They didn't care about the dogs. They cared only for their reputations, their egos, and their statistics. ("Look at us, we're so great, we saved 100 dogs this year.")

Also, please note that Harold readily admits to spreading the news that I was going to file a denuncia, including telling the vet  "and others". The ironic thing is that they were threatening ME with persecution for slander, yet I had told next to no one, and here is Harold blabbing his mouth off and probably causing more damage to the vet's reputation than I ever did. Un-fucking-believable.

Anyway, the tone and accusations of these and other messages that were sent to me really shook me up. (My poor sister can attest to that!) Many people advised me to not proceed. I was really scared. I didn't file the denuncia for many months, trying to put it out of my mind.

But it was eating at my soul. Every time I stepped onto my porch, I remember Sahara lying there dead. Every time I scrolled thru my pictures, I saw sweet BabyPup. Every time I petted Velvet, I was reminded that I had failed to save her sister, Venus.

So in February, I completed the documents and with a sad but firm heart mailed the denuncia to the College of Veterinarians.

I did it because I needed to know that I had fought for Sahara, BabyPup, and Venus. They were beautiful, innocent dogs and they didn't deserve their horrible deaths. I was responsible for them. They were my dogs. When they got sick, I took them to a vet that people told me was good. But I soon learned differently.

Those are the photos that I attached to the denuncia. Here is the link to the other files. 

The files are mostly in Spanish, but I have included my notes in English. The translation to the denuncia is not word for word, of course. I won't repeat all the details here, for brevity's sake, but I will amend with some thoughts.

I must say this: Dr. Isael Estrada Atz is a fine surgeon. He has performed hundreds upon hundreds of spay/neuter surgeries at AYUDA's low-cost clinics at Lake Atitlan. No one can fault his surgery techniques or rate of success. The service he is doing for AYUDA is incredibly valuable. I never wanted to shut down his practice. I only wanted to incite change. I wanted his superiors to visit his office (which they never did) and give him suggestions as to how to improve so more beloved pets didn't die.

The Clinica Veterinaria San Martin office in Panajachel is inadequate for housing animals overnight. The animals are kept in a separate garage where no one can monitor them. Dr. Isael Estrada does not perform even the simplest of diagnostic tests, eg. Parvo SNAP tests, to confirm his diagnoses. He is rarely at the clinic in Pana because he has another office in Sololá, and because he spends many days helping AYUDA. Often when an owner goes to pick up their pet, he is not even present to talk to them. His staff in Pana are poorly trained, or not trained at all. There are no medical records kept to indicate what treatments have been given, if the animals are eating and how much, or if the IV fluids are being absorbed properly. (See my notes about Venus and her kinked IV. She basically died of complications due to long-term dehydration and starvation.)

I am not the only one who has noticed the poor care animals receive at his office.
Below is a link to a blog post from a few years ago about Shanti, a street dog rescued by a woman who was visiting Lake Atitlan. I personally wrote to her and she confirmed that it was Dr. Isael Estrada who treated her dog. At that time, there was no office in Pana, only in Sololá.

In her email, she wrote: 
"I really thought what happened to Shanti was a one-time thing/a mistake otherwise I would have contacted the animal rescue group. I was just happy to get him home."
I have heard other sad stories. In fact, a member of the Board of Directors of AYUDA had a dog who had to stay overnight at Clinica San Martin. When my friend went to pick up the dog, the poor thing was cowering in a crate in the garage, covered in urine and feces. He washed the dog before letting the owner see him that way.

My life has been hell here the past few months. I have had panic attacks. I didn't leave the house for two weeks, relying on "Bert" to get me groceries. When I did finally venture out, I walked with my head down, terrified to see someone who will accost me in public. I took back roads to avoid people. I wore plain clothing to not draw attention to myself. Sometimes I would turn around before getting to my destination, overcome with tears. Sometimes, I would walk out of the store crying, unable to finish shopping because my overwrought mind was endlessly repeating horrible scenarios of being approached by spiteful former friends.

Not only have I had to deal with the deaths of three foster dogs in two months, but I also had to deal with malicious gossip and "shit talk", as my friend aptly called it. I have tried to remind myself that no one cares what jerks say anyway. I have tried to maintain my ideals and my integrity. 


In Guatemala, you can go to prison for slander. That may be the case here. I am not permitted to say bad things about anyone in public. They can sue me. 


I am quite possibly the most honest person you will ever meet, and one of the most virtuous. (Outside of those religious folks!) Do you know that I have never done drugs? NEVER. I don't even smoke marijuana, which is rampant here. And I drink alcohol maybe once a month with friends. 

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph where I majored in Zoology, the study of animals. I worked as an Animal Control Officer with the Humane Society in Guelph shortly after graduation, but couldn't handle the euthanasias, so I quit and went to work for a no-kill rescue organization.

I buy dog food before I buy human food.
I feed my pets before I even make myself a coffee in the morning.
And every day, multiple times, I touch the head of every pet in my house and look in their sweet eyes and talk to them and give them love & attention.

I don't have children. I never wanted them. Animals have been my passion for as long as I remember. Helping animals is my reason for living. 

I want to write more but this is already very long. Please comment with any questions you have and I will try to answer. 

Thank you to my friends and family who have stuck by me, who listened while I wailed, who have offered advice and comfort. I'm sorry for the stress I have caused you. I don't know what I'm going to do next. Oh, wait. Yes, I do. I'm going to go pet Queso and Rui and Moo-Moo and Honey-Bear and Velvet. Good night.
Queso & Rui, my kitty boys. Guatemalan rescues!
My Moo-Moo. Love this dog. She is always so happy! She was from a litter of puppies that I rescued early last year. Her brothers and sisters were adopted but I had to keep her, she was too cute to give up!
Honey-Bear! She and her mother were picked up by AYUDA at the market in Panajachel. Her mother was released after her spay surgery. I decided to keep Honey to socialize her so she could be adopted. She is ready to go for anyone that needs a sweet, quiet, beautiful dog.
Miss Velvet! Her sister, Venus, was one of the dogs that died. Velvet's other sister, Violet, was adopted. Venus is smart and adorable and looking for a forever home.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Culture Fatigue in Guatemala

Everyone talks about culture shock when moving to a new country, but I think for me I would use the phrase culture fatigue. As of April 1st, I will have been living in Guatemala for four years. You'd think by now I'd be used to it! And in a way, I am accustomed to how things work here, but that doesn't mean I'm okay with it.
Don't get me wrong: I love Guatemala! If it was actually that bad, I would have left by now. But there are little things that are a shock at first, and you think you can accept them as part of the culture, but you never really do accept them, so it just gets tiring. Hence, culture fatigue.

Examples: gringo pricing, unexpected power outages, dangerous driving, suicide showers, and street dogs.

Why do those things bother me? Well, I'm from Canada, a rather liberal and civilized country. (If I do say so myself!) I expect non-racist pricing, fewer power outages (not none, haha!), traffic rules and consequences for breaking them, hot water showers, and animal welfare laws.

And there are so many other things that even worse here in Guatemala, things that I can't comprehend: child marriages, abuse of women, and of course widespread corruption.

And have you heard about Mayan Justice? Also known as vigilantism. It's when the indigenous people act as judge, jury, and executioner in a crime. They rarely have a trial. Accusations are founded on eyewitness or just hearsay. Mobs will attack police officers and stations to remove indigenous criminals in order to deliver punishment that they see fit. They literally burned two 19-year-old boys ALIVE for threatening tuc-tuc drivers. Those boys are dead for making a bad decision at 19 years old. They will never have a chance to change their circumstances, to repent, mature, and live their lives.
The mob mentality here is inexcusable. I understand where it comes from though. The civil war that ravaged this country for more than 30 years left a dark hole in the hearts of indigenous people. I know it will take a long time to reverse the distrust of power caused by the genocide of the Mayans at the hands of the Guatemalan military. But it breaks my heart to see angry men taking the law into their own hands. Whipping a man at the park for beating his wife -- that I understand. That's merely public shaming and a bit of temporary pain. But burning people alive? While a crowd watches and does nothing? Horrifying.

So my complaints of lukewarm showers and power outage seem small and petty. But these are the things that make my day-to-day life just a little bit irritating, the things that wear me down, the things that make me throw up your hands and go, "Why am I here?"

So how do I deal? Easy. Walk to the beautiful Lake Atitlan. Drink heavenly coffee. Admire jaw-dropping sunsets. Eat the freshest, most luscious fruits and veggies. And rescue as many street dogs and cats that I can.
Oh, and laugh at my Canadian friends who are knee-deep in snow while I'm here in shorts and a tshirt watering my freshly blooming lilies. 😎

Red lilies blooming in my garden.
For more information on how to cope with culture shock as an expat, check out this short article at Family Move Abroad.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I 💗 Gluten

I remember first walking down the streets of Panajachel, Guatemala, almost four years ago and being filled with both delight and disgust at the variety of smells.
Delight -- delicious foods being cooked
Disgust -- sewage, rotten things, and diesel fumes

One of the best smells of all comes when you walk past a bakery. Something I love about living here in Pana is that there are tons of places to get fresh-baked buns and treats. Now, notice I said "buns" and not "bread". This was something I learned in my first week here. The bakeries don't bake bread. HUH? What kinda bakery doesn't bake bread??

Well, I didn't know this when I first went into a small bakery in Jucanya way back in 2015. My nose led me into the little shop, drawn by the early morning smell of yeasty goodness. Feeling smart cuz I knew the Spanish word, I asked for pan - bread. The lady raised an eyebrow and me and said, "What kind?" I was a bit baffled and started to look around the shelves and in the racks behind her. She pulled out some baskets and showed me a dozen different varieties of buns and rolls. I said, "No, pan," and mimed the shape of a loaf. She shook her head. Nope, no bread here. Slightly mystified, I bought some delicious fresh buns and went on my way.

A bit later, I was in Despensa Familiar (the grocery store) where they sell regular loaves of sliced bread and I checked the package label. It said pan sandwich. Oooh! Sandwich bread. Makes perfect sense, once you hear it!

Back I went to a different bakery armed with my new vocabulary. ¿Tienes pan sandwich? (Do you have sandwich bread?) Nope, no sliced bread. Hrm. Curious. After trying several places over the next few weeks, I eventually gave up trying to find a freshly-baked loaf of sliced bread. Instead, I bought boring sliced white bread at Despensa and buy all my other bready products from the bakeries.

Recently, I was pleased to find more baked goods including awesome loaves of bread in the back of Chalo's and the front of Sandra's. You can get seeded loaves, focaccia, croissants, bagels, and baguettes. Pricey but worth it!

Here's another little secret! Almost every corner store has a basket of freshly baked buns for sale. The big bakeries make loads of buns of different shapes and sizes and deliver them to the tiendas in baskets or crates. The store owner usually places a brightly coloured cloth on top of the basket to keep the bread fresh, so you may not notice that it's there. But don't be shy. Lift up that cloth and take a peek at the yumminess hiding beneath!

How to shop:
Bakeries here in Panajachel operate usually in a choose-your-own manner. You walk in, trying not to drool, pick up a basket and a pair of tongs, and pick out your individual buns or rolls or cookies or whatever else catches your eye. You take your filled basket to the counter and they count the pieces out into a bag, you pay, and off you go!
buns bread bakery pan
Buns for sale at the local bakery in Jucanya.

6 packaged processed "normal" hamburger buns at Despensa Familiar Q14
6 delicious fresh-baked soft hamburger buns at the bakery only Q3!
Most individual buns, cookies, and smaller items in the bakeries are Q0.50 each (50 centavos). Bigger or fancier rolls are more.
Banana bread (pan banano) Q10 to Q20 depending on the size and the bakery

bun octopus bread
So cute! A little bread octopus! Only 50 centavos.
Bakeries are more than just buns, of course! Even the smallest bakery will sell cookies, generally of two types. Champurradas are the ubiquitous Guatemalan cookie, perfect for dunking in your coffee. They not really sweet, crispy on the edges and kinda soft in the middle, often topped with sesame seeds.
Other cookies I've purchased from smaller bakeries come in different shapes -- rounds, fingers, flowers -- but seem to all be made from the same dough. I have to say that they're not very good and if anyone is interested in an unmet need in Panajachel, come down and open up a cookie store! I will be your best customer, I promise!

Champurradas. Photo courtesy of  Antigua Daily Photo.
Click the picture to go to their website! I love it!
In Pana, there are several bigger bakeries and cake shops. I won't go into all of them here. It will be more fun for you when you to visit and stroll around and discover them on your own. 😊

Looks delicious, doesn't it?

Cupcakes, oh my!
I should mention that this is my experience in Panajachel, which is a rather small town in a rural area of Guatemala. I have seen some pretty awesome bakeries in the bigger cities of Guatemala City, Antigua, and Xela (Quetzaltenango). They had such amazing variety! I'm sure you would have no problem getting your gluten/sugar fix on in any of those places. 😋

pan = bread items of all types
pan sandwich = loaf of bread
panadería = bakery
pastelería = cake shop
pan frances = a roll for making sandwiches
pan dulce = a roll with a bit of sweetness in it, usually fancier looking
galletas = cookies
pastel = cake
pan banano = banana bread
pan zanahoria = carrot bread
cubiletes = this is a Guatemalan word for cupcakes
magdaleñas = also cupcakes, I think
mufin = muffin (ha!)

Please, comment below if you have any experience with bakeries in Guatemala. I'd love to hear more proper terms for the baked goods, and also where your favourite bakery is!