Guatemala 6/28/2018 - 7/8/2018
Sunday, 7/1/2018 - Market, Calle SantanderCraig was feeling more like himself when he woke up this morning, and we all ate breakfast together outside. We had cereal, bananas, strawberries, coffee, and juice. Tyson was the butterfly whisperer, extracting a freshly hatched butterfly from a potentially dangerous encounter with Ian Ivan.
Tyson and I accompanied Paulina, Eddy, Yasmin, and Ian Ivan to the market. Craig decided to stay home...the weather is hot for him, and the market involves a lot of walking. The market visit is a daily affair, where fresh food is purchased. In the past, the family never had a refrigerator.
We walked up Rancho Grande, and Tyson was enchanted by the bromeliads on the electrical wires. We stopped at a small park which contains dinosaur statues made of scrap metal and Ian Ivan got a shoeshine. It was adorable.
Then we continued on to the market. It is an indoor/outdoor market where locals in colorful traditional dress sell produce, flowers, meat, clothing, toiletries, accessories, incense, prayer candles...basically anything you can think of. We had fresh coconut water and enjoyed wandering around looking at all of the interesting wares.
This was the first time that I found people in the market to be hyper aware of my small point and shoot camera. The coconut guy wouldn't let me take a photo of him opening our coconuts with his machete, even though we were making a purchase from him. This is unusual. I don't take photos without people's permission, but people rarely protest when you are doing business with them.
Also, even when I wasn't photographing people, and was just trying to take photos of the overall market scene, people were protesting. We had been coming here for 14 years and had never had this reaction. So I decided to put my camera away and switch to my cell phone. People didn't think twice about me fiddling with my phone, so I was able to take photos without causing a scene.
Paulina bought produce and we wandered around. Tyson enjoyed looking at the vibrant colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as the potted plants. I showed him the butcheries on the perimeter of the indoor market, where butchers were using band saws to slice up meat so fresh that it was probably alive earlier this morning. Chicken feet were displayed on a white tile counter. Ian put his hands all over everything and I couldn't help but think of the disinfectant commercial where a kid and his grandpa have made a marionette out of a raw chicken carcass.
Paulina's final purchase was a small bag of mora (blackberries) for Craig. They are one of his favorite fruits. Unfortunately, as Paulina suspected, they were not quite ripe yet and were indeed quite sour.
After the market, we stopped into Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis (St. Francis of Assisi), the family's Catholic church. Due to complete coincidence, St. Francis has been a continuous thread throughout my entire life. He was the namesake of my family's parish in Fitchburg. My grandfather worked as a caretaker of the church. I was baptized there, and Craig and I got married there.
After agreeing to be Aracely's godparents, we learned that San Francisco de Asis is their church in Pana, where all of the family baptisms and quinceañera Masses have taken place.
After agreeing to be Sisa's godparents in Ecuador, we learned that Sisa would be baptized in Iglesia de San Francisco in Cotacachi.
[In fact, as I am typing this, I am listening to a recording of Patti Smith in 2015, and she adds a random story about St Francis taming wild wolves to the middle of her song "Banga." What synchronicity indeed!]
The Spanish missionaries who came to the area immediately following the conquest were Franciscans. They built this church in 1567. The official name of the town used to be San Francisco de Panajachel, but unlike most of the other lakeside villages, it secularized its name at some point along the way.
While in the church, I lit a candle for my grandmother who was in hospice care after suffering a stroke the prior week.
Tyson and I had considered doing some souvenir shopping since we were right near Calle Santander. But the sun was hot and we could use a siesta and a cold drink. Paulina was in a rush to get home to prepare lunch, so she hailed two tuk-tuks to take us back. Tyson, Eddy, and I rode in one, and Paulina, Yasmin, and Ian Ivan rode in another. They beat us home because their driver took Calle Rancho Grande. Ours took Santander and got stuck at the traffic light.
Tuk-Tuk Ride through Panajachel
I knew that Craig still wasn't feeling well when he told me that he couldn't eat an entire pitaya. He wanted to split one with me. He normally devours them. We cut the pitaya in half and each used a spoon to scrape the bright, sweet, kiwi-textured flesh from the thick cactus skin.
Yoselin and Yasmin cooked lunch, featuring tamalitos. These are like tamales (made of corn and steamed in leaves) but without any kind of filling). It was served with stew beef in a traditional red sauce. We had fresh lemonade with chia seeds (chilled in the new fridge!) Delicious!
The kids' cousin Brittany came over and they watched videos from prior visits. We have known the kids since 2007, so they enjoy seeing their younger selves and reliving the old memories. Craig and I get emotional watching the videos...these are our kids and we are so proud of the young ladies and men they have grown into! There are also those in the videos who are no longer with us, including Paulina's father, Humberto's mother, and the kids' little cousin David, gives the whole thing a bittersweet quality.
Tyson and I never did do that souvenir shopping this morning, and we both needed to refresh our cash supplies. We wanted to take everyone for ice cream afterwards, so Craig decided to save his strength for that mission. Tyson and I set out on our own.
We decided to try a different ATM...this one in the Hotel del Lago. There were a couple of gringas in front of the cash machine who told us that it wasn't working. The Sarita ATM was also still out of order. So we decided to go back to the same machine we had visited on Friday.
After picking up some cash, we went to a store that we had visited before, where Tyson had seen a primitive wooden deer mask that he had wanted to purchase. He also bought a small terra cotta skull. I looked at nichos for my St. Francis effigy that I had bought last year, but I couldn't accurately recall its size.
We went into one dark little shop run by an elderly Kaqchiqel couple. There were all kinds of curiosities in this shop, and, reflecting on it, it calls to mind the shop at the beginning of "Gremlins." There were many carved wooden pieces, some of which looked as if they could be antique. Many of them were religious in nature, and it was easy to picture them having decorated colonial churches, dulled by candle soot.
There were also small statues of skeletons, which looked more Mexican Day of the Dead inspired.
Tyson was rummaging through some carved wooden statues when he found one shaped like a dog. The dog was eating a fish, and a puppy clung onto its back. There was a slot on the back of the dog's neck...it was a coin bank! The proprietor noted our interest and approached us. We asked him how much it cost, and he said 600 Quetzales (around $80). Tyson really loved it, but its size and shape were awkward for carrying back home. The proprietor could see that he was wrestling with the idea, and pointed our attention to a smaller "dog", which was actually quite horrifying. It looked like a cross between a frog and a sperm, with a dog's head. That was a definite no.
Tyson decided to wait and think about the large bank. We still had a full week to go. If the week progressed and he hadn't found anything he liked as much, then he would buy it and just deal with carrying it home. If the proprietor hadn't been right there with us, I probably would have snapped a quick photo. But I thought it was tacky to refuse to buy an item and instead take a photo. In hindsight, I wish I had done so anyway...the quest to find this dog again would become an unrequited obsession for the remainder of the trip. We thanked the elderly couple who ran the shop and we continued down Calle Santander.
We went into a store which sold oil paintings. Tyson liked a couple of small canvases depicting replendant quetzal birds. He asked me how much would be a reasonable price. From prior experience, I suggested around $10 each. When we asked the guy how much they cost, he totally tried to fleece us. He wanted 450 Quetzales ($60 apiece).
This was ridiculous, and we told him that was way too much. His excuse was that the fact that they are done in oil paint means that it they take a lot longer to paint than acrylics. He tried to tell us that the detail was very fine. I call BS on that. The designs were not detailed, and the canvases were small.
I felt that there wasn't any point attempting to bargain with him. He was starting so high that I wasn't even comfortable offering what I believe was a fair price. So we said that we weren't interested and exited the store. As we walked away, he called after us his "best price" of 300 Quetzales ($40) apiece. Wow, this guy!
When we got home, we gathered folks up and went for a walk to Sarita for some ice cream. We were very happy that Craig was finally feeling well enough to venture outside the house for the first time! Yoselin, Yasmin, Aracely, and Eddy joined us. As we passed the place where I had tripped on the roadside drainage ditch last year, Craig and Eddy happily acted out my accident.
We went to the Sarita closest to the lake so that Craig wouldn't need to walk further than necessary. Although Craig was feeling generally better, his stomach wasn't feeling well enough to want ice cream. Yoselin and Yasmin got banana splits, I got a vanilla shake, and everyone else got cones. I gave Craig a sip of my shake so that his Sarita experience wasn't solely vicarious this evening.
We sat in the food court and tried to shoo away Juana's old dog, who had followed us here and seemed intent on bothering Yasmin, who has a fear of dogs. As we ate our ice cream, a torrential downpour started outside. It was so loud on the corrugated metal roof! There was a river flowing through Calle Santander, and we heard thunder and even saw some lightning. Poor Craig: the first time he is able to venture out into the greater world in 3 days and the heavens open up. No chance of running into anyone we know, since everyone is just seeking shelter.
We decided to bide our time; there was no sense walking home in this deluge. Tyson and I went into a small ceramic shop in the food court. These ceramics were from San Antonio Palopo. Tyson was so happy with his ceramics purchase from yesterday that he bought a couple of small pieces as gifts. The rain died down and we made our escape, dodging puddles and water traveling through the drainage ditches.
We talked to Humberto and planned our activities for the week ahead. We decided on a schedule that would allow me to work when necessary, and would spread out Craig's activities a bit. With the way he has been feeling, we want to save his strength for a couple of key activities: the ceremony for my grandmother with the Mayan priest, the trip to Fuentes Georginas hot springs, and the trip to Iximche Mayan ruins. Humberto suggested that if Tyson wanted to see Antigua, the colonial capital, we could do that on the same day as Iximche. At first we thought that this might be too much, but upon further reflection, we all realized that Tyson would regret it if we went home without seeing Antigua, so we added it to the list of things that we wanted to do.
During a brief thunderstorm, we enjoyed a light dinner of tamalitos, stew beef in red sauce, and rice. Then it was time for bed. We would be doing a lake village tour tomorrow!
Craig and Aracely
Tyson enjoys coconut water at the Panajachel market
Steph lights a candle for her grandmother at Iglesia San Francisco de Asis, Panajachel
Riding in a tuk-tuk (with Ian Ivan photobomb!)
Yoselin and Aracely
Ice cream at Sarita! Craig, Eddy, Yasmin, Tyson, Yoselin, Aracely, and Steph