Life in Guatemala

Life in Guatemala

Pintando Santa Catarina Palopó

Each of the villages and towns around Lake Atitlán has its unique personality. Over the past year, the town of Santa Catarina Palopó has been adding to its personality with bright colors and designs that reflect the town’s history. Santa Catarina Palopó is the town closest to Panajachel–about 2.5 miles or 4 km. Though a…

Life in Guatemala

Annona Time at Lake Atitlán

We’ve started seeing the first annonas of the season in the Panajachel market. Oh, how we love a good annona! And how we detest a bad one. I tried my first annona on my second trip to Guatemala. It was late November 2009, near the end of the season. The first one was delicious, sweet…

Life in Guatemala

Christmas in Guatemala (Boom!)

Guatemalans love to celebrate pretty much everything with loud, booming blasts. Christmas is no exception. In preparation for the annual Christmas Eve blast-fest, vendors are lined up with stall after stall selling all manner of things that go boom. This photo was taken on the Calle Principal in Panajachel, a block down from the market….

Life in Guatemala

A Walk Through Chuk Muk

On October 5, 2005, a landslide cause by the torrential rains of Hurricane Stan buried the village of Panabaj, part of Santiago Atitlán, under tons of mud. Hundreds of people died. Many of the surviving residents of Panabaj were eventually relocated to a new government-built village called Chuk Muk. When I describe to people where…

Life in Guatemala

Lake Atitlan’s Fall Colors

While my friends in the northern U.S. are posting photos of the beautiful changing colors of fall, I’m watching our own changing colors with delight. We’re almost to November, my favorite month at Lake Atitlan. The rainy season has ended, the hillsides are green, and everywhere flowers are beginning to bloom. The hills are dotted…

Life in Guatemala

Legends of Cerro de Oro and The Little Prince

French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was taking off from the Guatemala City airport in February, 1938, on his way to South America. The airplane, accidentally overloaded with fuel, crashed about 10 miles from the airport; the plane was destroyed and Saint-Exupéry was seriously injured. He spent time in La Antigua recovering from his injuries. While…

Life in Guatemala

A Few Choice Words for the Medfly?

At a time when the Zika virus is grabbing headlines, I haven’t thought much about mediterranean fruit fly. Recently, however, these signs popped up on the highway around Cerro de Oro–the closest village to us. The village has a few choice words for the medfly. I’m well acquainted with the destruction medflies can do. In…

Life in Guatemala

Our Morning Swim in Lake Atitlan

It’s hard to describe the beauty, peace, and rejuvenation experienced during our morning swim in Lake Atitlan, but something is compelling me to try. The surface of the lake is calm and sparkling on a windless morning. The sky is bright blue; the world is washed clean from last night’s rain. Trees shine nearly iridescent…

Life in Guatemala

Life in Guatemala: Having a Blast

You know you’ve acclimated to life in Guatemala when you no longer wonder why there are so many firecrackers going off. Yes, almost always, someone is having a blast of the firecracker variety. Many days you know they’re coming: Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, early on Mother’s Day morning, during the feria titular (the fair…

Life in Guatemala

Staying Legal

Most people come to Guatemala as tourists and stay here as tourists. Guatemala automatically grants a three-month stay to many visitors, including citizens of the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, the EU, and Australia. But what if you’re staying longer than three months? How do you keep your immigration status legal? You have three options: Request…

Life in Guatemala | Music

We Keep on Singing

Performing at a restaurant that is open to the street can have its challenges. Sometimes a loud vehicle or music blasting from a tuk tuk drowns us out. Dogs come in off the street begging at the tables, and I’ve seen patrons jump up yelping as they feel a dog run under the table and past their…

Life in Guatemala

Presidential Election

Tomorrow, October 24, is the runoff election for president of Guatemala. The choice is between former first lady Sandra Torres and comedian Jimmy Morales. This has been quite a year for politics in Guatemala. Corruption scandals and huge popular protests forced the resignation of both vice president Roxanna Baldetti and president Otto Perez Molina. As voters go…

Life in Guatemala

The ATM Isn’t Working?

Yesterday an American stopped me on the street in Panajachel. He’d seen me a few days earlier and knew that I live here. “What do you do if you can’t get money from the ATM?” he asked. Good question. Sometimes you can go to another ATM or ATM network. He’d tried that. The largest ATM network…

Life in Guatemala

Banking Customer Service?

Never before have I walked out of a bank literally yelling “I hate this bank!” But that’s what happened a week ago. I have been using this bank’s online banking for four years, including ACH transfers to pay individuals such as my electrician and contractor. Always, the money has been transferred by late afternoon when…