“It’s just the dogs on the roof Alisa, now go back to bed.”

Saturday was cold and windy! As I looked at Jim, he laughed and said this was just the beginning of the storm!  At that moment, dressed in our warmest clothes and wrapped in blankets, there was no discussion of the pros or cons of cutting our stay by 20 days and immediately we started looking for a warmer place.  By the end of the night we had transportation booked for Monday. 

Panajachel was a cool place and I mean that in more ways than one. My favorite part was seeing both old and young proudly embrace their culture and traditions. As for Lago de Atitlan, it was more beautiful from the sky than the ground, but then again I come from an area of beautiful lakes.  

Pana had the feeling of a big town and a small village. The main street Calle Santander leads to the lake and is lined with locals selling and bartering their goods, street food, restaurants, pharmacies and many other small stores.  Exploring the town I saw a couple of hardware stores, lumber yards, furniture, technology, and grocery stores, medical facilities, laboratories, a hospital, internet cafes, public transportation (chicken buses and Tuk-Tuks) and so many other small shops. Many were selling second hand and knock off American brand clothing and shoes.  There are two public docks to get to other villages around the lake.  We were looking forward to staying a few nights in San Pedro, seeing the Church in Santiago and I was really looking forward to Keith’s Cacao Ceremony in San Marcos. 

Pana was expensive. Shopping at the local market, which was quite large, would have been a lot cheaper but after my tummy issue and doctor’s orders that was not an option. There were two grocery stores that offered a limited selection of different items that were also expensive; for example a bottle of shaving cream cost $9.00, a local bottle of beer at a bar cost $2.50. However, we did find a few hidden gems that offered happy hour (Tequila shots $0.65), food specials (Pepian de Pollo $3.90) and a pizza place that didn’t put hotdogs on every pizza order. We became good pals with Lucas, the local delivery guy, especially after Jim’s accidental $9.00 tip.

Our place was about a 25 minute walk or $1.30 Tuk-Tuk ride into town. There are no streets, so explaining to a Tuk Tuk driver where you live could have been difficult, but thankfully we were next to Miguel’s Tienda and Los Manos, which was all we had to say. To get to our place you had to walk down a long narrow alley and on the other side of the door, you enter into a beautiful landscaped area with all different plants, flowers and trees. There are five homes on the property all similar in architecture. The owner who lives in one of the homes on the property is responsible for all the intricate woodwork, making the homes very feng shui. I would agree with that for about two hours a day when the little sun we had would pass through the garden area and shine in the living room and on deck…after that the house became the complete opposite of feng shui. 

The house was neither soundproof nor windproof. Looking at the wood ceiling you could literally see through to the metal roof. There were two natural skylights covered by fiberglass panels. The few curtains in the house would blow with the wind and the loft bedroom windows were made of wood and screen, with a light paper material as a covering. We used all extra towels to cover these windows to help with the cold and sound. The small fireplace took the chill off at night but only after hours of Jim love and as long as there was no wind. If it was windy, which it was most of the time,  there was no way to have a fire without asphyxiating yourself, the smoke would just blow right back in.

At night if we were lucky the only sound we'd hear would be the tree limbs blowing against the metal roof.  Jim's midnight mantra to me became, "It's just a dog on the roof honey, go back to bed." Not only did the dogs bark all night, they would chase the cats across the METAL roof, scaring me every time. I also had a good scare when I woke to a cell phone ringing and someone talking from downstairs..someone was in the house. Thankfully before I let out a scream or woke Jim, I realized it was coming from outside.  Mornings were fun as well, being woken up by dogs, scooters, roosters (we both know better) coupled with being cold and no heat.....meant grouchy mornings. The best was the last few days, we had these tiny blister bites on our bodies that itch like hell, YUP time to go!

I am thankful for the amazing, scary and uncomfortable experiences we've had the last few weeks in Panajachel. Pana really is an interesting, cool place with a lot to do and see……when it’s warm!  Traveling continues to be such an amazing learning process for me/us and it opens my eyes and heart to what a beautiful world we live in regardless of experiences. It’s filled with so many caring and kind people and with so much to see and experience.

PS. We had a lot of time curled up reading and thanks to Jimbo….one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think book. By Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling. 

Mike's Tienda

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

Panajachel Market

Chicken Buses

Calle Santander

Pepian de Pollo


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