Wednesday, 3 September 2014

0095 - A little more Panajachel

Well, it is now the 2nd Sept, and I have successfully relaxed and enjoyed myself here for a week ! It is a quiet little town – Most of the time !  But weekends is fiesta time around here, so for most of the weekend there are lots of fireworks going off, and streets are often blocked to traffic due to market stalls being set up in the roads, so travelling at weekends is not always the easiest or quickest way to travel ! (remember what I said in an earlier post about the main roads always seeming to go right through the middle of the towns and villages !)

I have (finally, after carting it to the arctic circle twice !) been using my bike a bit, as it is an excellent way to get around, and this afternoon I went out for a bike ride into town to get some supplies Right outside the hotel gates I find the police, and the traffic out of town all backed up, and no one coming down the hill into town. (The road drops sharply into Panajachel from about 2500 metres down to the town at about 1500 m.  The end of the steep hill is right at the entrance to my hotel / camp site.)  I presume there has been an accident somewhere on the road coming into town, so after asking the police if I can pass (“Si, Si, no problema, senor”)  I pedal through the throngs of people (most of them out of the cars and chicken buses that are lined up in town waiting to leave) and go off and do my shopping.

There are lots of little stores everywhere, and while the farmacias and bread shops are obviously selling only their respective things, the little “general store” type of shops sell all sorts of different things, and you have to go into all of them (well, lots of them) to see what each has.   So initially there is lots of “Solo estoy mirando” (I’m just looking), and they are happy with that.  Over the week I have settled on one little store run by a couple of Senoras who are not only very friendly but also seem to have a better stock of vino and beer than all the others.  Chilean Merlots are the obvious tipple round here, and vary from $5 per bottle to $20.  Naturally I stay at the lower end of the market due to my wasted taste buds, so between that and a quite palatable dark Guatemalan lager that they stock, I am more than happy.  They also supply me with my huevos for my breakfast, and a few other staples (You really have to inspect every shelf to see what they have !!).  And now I have been back a couple of times they greet me with a big smile, which is nice (Maybe they see the gringo coming ?)  But today 6 fresh eggs were under $1, so I was fine with that.  But all power was off in town, so the transaction was done by candlelight !!  (Wifi also therefore off !)

Then it was off up the hill (hard work on a bike at altitude – I seem to use low-1st (aka grandad gear) a lot nowadays, even on the flat ! And downhill you don’t want to go too fast in case a chicken or tuk tuk unexpectedly jumps out in front of you !) ) to the local markets which I only found the other day, right at the top of the town.  You can’t buy fresh veggies or fruit in shops round here – Just at the market. So I wandered round, found some lovely tomatoes and bananas, but couldn’t find any potatoes today.  I think my bananas and tomatoes cost me about $0.50 in total for 4 of each.  They have great pineapples and mangoes and papaya and rambutans etc, but it is a bit of a waste for just one as I would never finish a whole one before it went off.  I am sure Janet will help me eat them once she gets here !!

With my grocery shopping done it was off back to the van – weaving through the traffic that was still backed up on the main street.  When I got to the front this time I asked the police if it was OK to pass again, and lots of the guys sitting on the side of the road waiting laughingly said “Si Si” and made as if to tell me to ride up the hill out of town (about 5 miles of 1 in 3 hill).  So while they all laughed and clapped, I pretended to go up the hill – veering off into the hotel at the last minute, much to their dismay.  They really are fun and friendly people.

Coming out of the hotel was the gardener who I have “chatted to” a bit over the last few days, and I asked him what was going on – “Accidente ?” I asked.  “No, no, - esta manifestacion” he said.   Hmm – Having not seen a manifestation for a while, it was back to the dictionary – Aha - “A Demonstration”.  So from what I understand it is a bit like the one which I drove into the middle of and where I was “fined” 100 pesos in the Chiapas mountains in Mexico last week – The local villagers somewhere up in the hills decide they want something changed, so they block the road, and then everyone waits while they sort it out.  Hopefully the manifestation will be over by tomorrow morning when I intend to drive to Guatemala City (only one road !). 

I managed to sneak a couple of pics of the traffic jam down the main street, but as I say, I don’t really like doing that very much.

A few other pics included looking down the more touristy streets of Panajachel – LOTS of restaurants of every kind – How they make money I do not know because most of them are empty, and the rest only have half a dozen people in – There must be two restaurants for every inhabitant in town !  And the rest are selling brightly coloured cloth and dresses and wallets and belts and all the usual paraphernalia.  I would love to get the cushions in the back of Troopie recovered in a bright Central American material – Maybe I should just buy the material and have them recovered when I get home ?  Hmm – Food for thought. 

Anyway, that is my restful week in Panajachel. Didn’t really do a lot – As I have said before, doing things (kayaking on lake, or going for cruises) on my own is just not really that exciting.   I am off to Guatemala City tomorrow (manifestacions permitting), and will stay in a hotel near the airport. Janet arrives (from Brisbane via Dalles, Texas) at 7 pm on the 4th, so once she is in and has  and has  and has her head a little straight, we will desice where we want to go and whether we will stop in Antigua (the Guatemalan City !!) for 2 or 3 weeks to learn a bit more Spanish, or whether we shall wander south.  Choices, choices.

I would be quite happy to come back to Panajachel for a few more days – It is a very peaceful little town – Fiestas and manifestacions aside !!!

The pics of the old Land Rover in the campsite are for Dean at Australian 4 WD on the Gold Coast, who prepared Troopie for me, and who is shipping his own old 1950's Land Rover to England in 2017, and then driving it back to Australia.  I thought you would enjoy these pics, Dean !! Roll on 2017 !!
Some pics here

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