Thursday, June 2, 2011

!Hola de Pana!

Darcy and I overlooking Lake Atitlan, which borders Panajachel
After landing in Guatemala City this morning and and a three hour drive on winding mountainside highways, Darcy and I finally arrived in Panajachel this afternoon. We were greeted by Andrea, who showed us the beautiful little house where we will be living, with our own bedrooms, a sitting area with couches and a TV, a dining area, and a fully-outfitted kitchen, all surrounded by a beautiful garden. The whole place is clean, spacious, and just a short walk from Panajachel’s town center and from the OB office.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering all over Pana with Andrea. Over a delicious lunch of pupusas (a traditional Salvadoran dish made of corn tortillas, stuffed with meat, cheese, beans or other ingredients), Andrea told us about life in Pana and in Guatemala in general, and about her background and how she got involved with OB. We stopped by the OB office, where we met the community facilitators and checked out the Fair Trade store, and had a quick tour of the Life School, an amazing bilingual school that Andrea’s husband is the director of. Andrea pointed out some great restaurants for us to try and showed us the two international markets in town, where we can buy everything from milk, cheese and cereals to local specialties and herbal remedies, and told us about the larger marketplace, where we will be buying most of our food with the $50/week allowance Nest is providing us. Andrea explained that we can in fact eat many fruits and vegetables here, as long as we wash them carefully with a special solution and bottled water. I’m excited both to try some of the great restaurants in town that Andrea pointed out as well as to practice my Spanish at the local markets and take advantage of the kitchen in our little house. Then, Andrea took us down to see Lake Atitlan up close– absolutely breathtaking - and pointed out where some of the Mayan communities that work with OB are located. 

Everywhere we went, Andrea introduced us to her friends, many of whom are also expatriates working with various NGOs or organizations in the town. Panajachel is such a vibrant mix of everything – it has a definitive hippie vibe to it, with plenty of backpackers, tourists, and volunteers from all over, and the international markets, stores, and restaurants that come along with that culture, but it also feels uniquely Guatemalan and representative of the local indigenous culture at the same time. Tomorrow morning we begin our official orientation at OB – though today’s been exhausting, I can’t wait to officially get started!

1 comment:

  1. beautiful pics, nik! keep up the good work helping my people! :)