Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Beginning to Feel a Bit Like Christmas

There are signs of Christmas here in San Pedro, but it doesn't really feel like Christmas. The men working next door often have Christmas music playing, and I'm listening to Winter Wonderland while swinging in my hammock.

Here are some shots that make one think of Christmas. Poinsettias are a native plant, and they grow to the height of trees.

The park in front of the church is decorated for Christmas. Do you notice something missing in this creche scene? Note the empty space where a special baby should be. I don't know if someone swiped him, or if he had work to do somewhere else.

I like the snowman juxtaposed with the hibiscus.


This poster is plastered on poles around town, advertising a popular bar/restaurant, called D'Noz.

I'm leaving San Pedro tomorrow morning to get home before Christmas. 

Feliz Navidad!!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Truck to Chuitzanchaj

Yesterday three friends and I hired a pickup truck and driver to take us through the mountains to the village of Chuitzanchaj, which is a fabulous spot from which to view all of Lago Atitlan. We travelled up and back, standing on the back of the truck, which is my favourite way to travel through the mountains here. There is a bar around the outside and down the middle to hold onto. With the wind in my hair, and a spectacular view in every direction, it feels like I'm flying. Here is Lynda on the back of the truck. Yes, that's my toque.

Here is a photo of the view from the top:


This is my good neighbour, Mike, and I. 

Raggedy Ann standing on top of Volcan San Pedro. She is such a daredevil!

This young lad is working in the family garden, which overlooks the lake. The garden was beautiful, with lots of dianthus grown to sell. There are mountain brooks which provide the water for gardening way up there.

One view from the back of the truck on the way back down. This doesn't capture how steep the descent is, nor the numerous switchbacks:

Then we were safely home, but exhausted from being on our feet for 5 hours. It was worth it though.
Full moon tonight.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Girls Just Wanna have Fun

I encountered these girls this morning on my way to the market, having a blast. As you can see, they are using those wheelie backpacks as go-carts. They were delighted to have their picture taken.

A couple of days ago, this was the view from my balcony. Amazing, that hill is called 'Cerro de Oro', hill of gold.

 As I watched, the rainbow became a double rainbow. The last time I saw a double rainbow was on Blessed Rainy Day in Bhutan.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

From Sunrise to Sunset

I was on my balcony this morning at six for the sunrise. What a great start to the day.

They are building a new apartment right next to mine, and each day three young men are hard at work out there. Today one of them had his little son with him, and he was amusing himself...and me.

I've discovered that I can buy lettuce, cilantro, basil and other greens, just down my path, straight from the gardener. He pulled them right from the ground in front of me, and washed off the roots, and handed them to me. They are the most perfect produce I have ever had. Here is the garden.
The lake has risen a few feet in the last three years, and a number of properties are under water. It is mostly foreigners who build near the water. Apparently the locals know better. I met an American/British couple recently who lost their house to the rising water. They were able to salvage and resell some of the building materials, but they are now renting a place with no intention of rebuilding.

My friend Miranda bought their clay roof tiles for her new house. It was just completed and it is gorgeous. She had a housewarming party on Sunday. Here she is in front of her new home. 

Have you ever wondered where the clothes go that are donated to one of those collection boxes? Well, this is one place they end up. It is sad to see locals wearing western clothing instead of their beautiful local textiles.

A local recycling project which I am delighted to support is a shoe business. The uppers are made of old huipiles (the women's handwoven blouses), and the sole is made of old tires. I had a pair custom made, and they turned out beautifully. I was able to pick my own fabric and they were sized for my foot. The craftmanship is exemplary, and they are very comfortable. I only took them off to go to bed last night.

To finish off, here is a sunset from my balcony.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Around Town


I bought myself a bouquet of peace lilies this morning. They are depicted in a lot of Guatemalan artwork, and for me they symbolize the beauty of the country. 

Here are a couple of lovely sights from my balcony. When I was taking the photo of the red bird, a young man who is working on the terrace next door said that it is a rare sight and that it will bring me luck. 

I've rarely seen squirrels in Guatemala, and enjoyed seeing this one in the same tree. A cat was stalking it, but it was no match for the super agile squirrel.
Here is little Lenchito, the youngest son of the family from whom I am renting the apartment. He is only seven and was recently diagnosed with a cancerous tumour on the pituitary gland. He had his first round of chemo in Guatemala City two weeks ago and is back home now. He is in good spirits, but he's not his usual spunky self. Hopefully, his energy will return when he has finished the chemo.
Guatemalans love fireworks for every special occasion, and this is the season of many special occasions. Today is the "Burning of the Devil", tomorrow is a day to honour La Virgen Maria. After that will be Christmas and New Year's. Fireworks are readily available in the markets.
As with so many developing countries, there is a lot of litter. They are trying to raise awareness of the problem through the schools and in the community, but it is a slow process. This is typical. The sign means "Don't throw garbage".
Most people here work very hard, and take pride and pleasure in their work. It is very common to see people singing and laughing and joking while labouring
. This is Brenda, who squeezes fresh orange juice for her livelihood. She is full of fun, as you can see.

It is the beginning of the coffee harvest here. The coffee is spread out to dry. That is Lago Atitlan in the background.
Speaking of coffee, it is time for afternoon tea!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

San Pedro La Laguna

It has been almost three years since I have posted anything on my blog. It's not that I haven't been having adventures, but ...who knows where the time goes?

I'm in the pueblo of San Pedro La Laguna on Lago Atitlan, Guatemala. I am renting the same apartment as I had in March-April earlier this year. One of the things I like about having my own apartment is that I can do my own cooking. The variety of fruits and vegetables available at the market is incredible. The price is also incredible. Here is a photo of today's shopping:
This lovely selection of veg and fruit cost 20 quetzales, or US$2.50. It includes a pound of strawberries, two large limes, a cucumber, a pound of carrots, three jalapeno peppers, a vidalia onion, a zucchini, a head of lettuce, a red pepper, two avocados, a bunch of radishes, a handful of snowpeas, and a hunk of ginger.

It is enough veg to make about four salads and two stir fries, as well as having a few bowls of strawberries as a treat. I bought yoghurt yesterday, about $1.50 for a litre of natural yoghurt. Dairy products are relatively expensive, as you can see. 

Almost every kind of food is available here, either at the market, or at the shops. There is also a wonderful Italian bakery, and many good restaurants. 

That's all for now.