So, I have been here long enough for many things to be routine.. I live in barrio Jucanya across the river from el centro de Panajachel. The walk to my Spanish school is about 3,000 steps across the bridge at St. Catarina Palpolo and turns down Calle Santander – the street that leads to the embaracadero. Santander “Y´s” into Calle Principal (Main Street) where the bus stops next to “Gringatenanga” – The snack bar there serves the bus riders and it is meeting place for gringos. I love it because it offers very good Guatemalan coffee and free initernet and often serves as my office until around 1:45 when I go for my immersion lessons.
looking at my window
At night, I frequent one of about 10 places and often meet friends there for drinks until it is time for me to go back to Carlos´house. Our Casa is muy typical contructed of the omnipresent cinderblock and adorned with broken glass and rusty rebar. The good news is that the street is very lit even though the street lamp is entangled with ad hoc wiring of all kinds. The public works in Pana look like any city before underground wires became vogue.

The construction of the house with all its hard surfaces efficiently conducts noises – I can not only hear arguments and the soft scuffle of slippers but if I tuned in I am sure that I could make out the “snap crackle pop” of a certain cereal.

The place strikes much like Greenwich Village in the early 1970´s when the Puerto Ricans kept chickens on their firescapes. Here, the roosters begins announcing dawn about 4:30 and the Tuk-Tuks (onamanapea for their tiny motors) start cranking around 5AM and the neighbor, who locks his motorcycle up at exactly 10:30PM boots that sucker up under my window at 5:30AM. This irritating smokin’ noise is followed by an obnoxious “Avon Calling” door bell that sounds every morning 2 or 3 times before 7:00. So, morining begins with a series natural and manufactured alarms in quick succession. Some mornings between the cock´s crow and the infernal chime, I get a very good whiff of the best pot smoke. By about 7:15 I give up and step into the unheated shower.

These are the things that I have grown used to… Other things like the need to spray for Dengue Fever, the constant parade of handicraft vendors cum beggars, the fact that we are on three faults with benign names like Nazca, Coco and Del Caribe and the orange alert that we are under because of the rains and flooding are less easily surmountable.

Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

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