San Antonio & Ukulele Gig at Chinita's

I didn't go to jail but I did get my name written down in a policeman's notebook. The thumbnail view is from Bill's guest room.  The guest room bed was very comfy--a twin with a firm mattress. Also, I had plenty of blankets to stay warm when temperatures dipped into the mid-50s at night.

The day started early and inauspiciously. My days always start early; it's just the way my biological clock is set. Bill and Merrie were very tolerant of my early rising considering the open design of Bill's living space. When I'd get up to fix a cup of tea, work on my pictures, and stir around I'd turn on a light over the bar in the kitchen. That light had to light up the master bedroom. Usually Bill and Merrie would be up a little after sunrise. By that time I'd have already eaten breakfast, had my cup of tea, and processed the previous day's photos. I'd cull the ones that were obvious losers, re-size the rest, and upload them to Google Drive.

When I got my tea brewed and started casting around for my cameras I couldn't find the white pocket camera I used for snapshots. I'd carry it around in my right pants pocket where it was always handy. Odd I couldn't find it...I remembered having it on the boat ride back from San Pedro. I pressed on without it. Soon the sun was up. Here's what the lake looked like shortly after sunrise. First a view looking south toward San Antonio then one looking north toward Santa Catarina. Brisk breezes had cleared the air of volcanic dust spewed by the Fuego volcano.

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I took both of these standing precariously on the low wall around Bill's deck.

Bill and Merrie got up and started making coffee. First thing I mentioned was I couldn't find my camera. Merrie suggested it might still be in the boat. Great idea! I had my tiny cell phone and we'd gotten Mario's card because Bill would probably call on him again for future lake trips.

I rang him up and he was at the boat. At first he said he didn't have the camera. I persisted and told him exactly where I had been sitting. He went and looked and eureka! He found the camera. I told him I'd be down to pick it up in 30 minutes. I threw on my clothes, hastily brushed my teeth and headed out for the docks. Bill had things to do at the house and gave me directions on how to get there. I'd been there earlier in the week. 

I found Mario without too much trouble. He was waiting on the street, camera in hand. I gave him a generous tip for returning the camera. I wanted to pick up a couple of items at the supermarket so I asked him where Walmart was. Apparently Walmart is not one of his favorite shopping places but he recommended that I take a tuk tuk to get there and back and that I leave the car parked where it was. A tuk tuk is a 3-wheeled scooter--a scaled-down taxi. You can take one anywhere in Pana for less than a dollar a person. Considering my driving woes I liked the tuk tuk idea and Mario hailed one for me. Here I am pretending to be the driver of the tuk tuk outside the supermercado. The driver took this pic.

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I bought a few items that weren't available in the local mercado: granola, wine, coffee creamer, beer, tostada chips--the bare necessities. Then I was off to find another tuk tuk to return to the car on the lake shore. 

The previous day we had returned to Bill's using a horrible unpaved road that skirted the town. I chose to navigate the city streets. I was making progress when I realized I was driving the wrong way on a one-way street. How embarrassing! Had to make a Y turn on the narrow street and redirect myself. Things were moving along nicely until I came to an intersection controlled by a traffic policeman. He motioned me over to the side of the road then knocked on my window. I rolled the window down and he proceeded to lecture me on the fact that my driving the wrong way on the street a couple of blocks away was a dangerous thing to do! He asked for my name and wrote it in his notebook. He pointed his finger at my face and told me not to do it again. No worries on that, I was just glad he didn't ask for my passport. In my rush to get down to the harbor I didn't bring it. The town is very gringo-friendly and I'm sure he'd seen worse behavior. He told me to go forth and to sin no more. I promised I'd be good in the future.

I found the right way back across the bridge and returned to Santa Catarina. The plan for the morning was to visit the other neighboring village, San Antonio. We got in the car, made another Y turn at the bottom of Bill's precipitous driveway and headed a few kilometers up the road. We parked a little way outside the village and walked in.

 "Welcome to San Antonio de Palopó, Land of Artisans"

"Welcome to San Antonio de Palopó, Land of Artisans"

In the smaller towns like San Antonio you always smell wood smoke. Wood is used for firing cook stoves. It's very common to see trucks in the streets selling wood every day. We headed to the right toward la playa, the waterfront. We stopped in a store that turned out to have a beautiful selection of woven scarves, other cloth items, and bags. Found a couple of things and negotiated a good price with these two women.

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Note the colors of their skirts and blouses. The design is unique to San Antonio. All villages have their own styles for dress. Only teenagers and workmen were Western-style outfits. Others like these women wear more traditional garb. Souvenir buying done, we walked on to the waterfront. This is a view from lakeside looking up at the main part of town.

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You can see the church above, we headed there next. San Antonio is known for its ceramics as well as its cloth handicrafts. We stopped briefly in a ceramics store but I knew I didn't want to carry any heavy dishes back with me on the plane so we moved on to a women's coop. There we saw a woman working on a loom.

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The church was uphill from the coop. After a brief look inside Bill and Merrie decided to sit on the steps while I wandered around taking a couple of photos. The view from the church courtyard was spectacular, the highest point in town.

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An enterprising cloth vendor was also camped on the church steps. She was very friendly and her low-key approach earned her a sale:  a very fine white shawl bought by Merrie.

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That was our last stop for the visit. Then we walked back to the car and made the short drive back to Bill's. Here are a couple of shots on the path from the house to the street.

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It's a gorgeous hacienda and the plantings are beautiful also. Bill's put in a ton of work over the last eight years refurbishing the place. Daniel, his gardener and handyman, works five days a week keeping up the grounds and doing projects.

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We practiced our song list in the afternoon with a short siesta by me before running through our tunes. Bill had secured the two-hour gig at Chinita's, a small courtyard restaurant open to the street, in central Panajachel. He had the song list and most of the song lyrics on his Nook.

Lynn came along and we left in time to grab a bite to eat (and a cerveza) as we set up the equipment for the performance. Our leaving coincided with a great sunset.

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The gig was a lot of fun. We only had one microphone so we had to make do. No problem for seasoned performers like us! Here's a video of our version of the Everly Brothers' All I Have To Do Is Dream, live at Chinita's! The crowd was receptive and gave us a warm reception, especially our fans and crew, Merrie and Lynn.

The drive back home was uneventful, creeping along the deserted road, dodging potholes and speed bumps when possible, and peering carefully through the heavily tinted glass to see which way the curves went.

Hasta luego!