Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Gringa and the Mayor

So, the wonderful little house is for the most part finished. There is sewer, electricity, plaster, a toilet and tile (and "a shower" Alexander reported excitedly) but no water (and what good is a shower without water?) thanks to the newly elected mayor of the town. Guatemalan politicians may be no worse than our own but they are a bit more obvious. "Why is there a gringa on the escrituras (deed for the land)?" asked the mayor of Estela some months ago. The obvious conclusion after multiple inquiries by multiple interested parties is that this gentleman is waiting for some monetary persuasion from "the gringa." Little does he know that "the gringa" is far away trying to earn the money to get these things done.

However, what that means is that it will be another six weeks before I can personally deal with the water situation. Hopefully, in the meantime the people who are working on it will succeed in intervening with "el alcalde." Perhaps it is all a ploy by Alexander and Estela to put off their move until I am there in the middle of August. If so, watch this space for photos and commentary of what will likely be a life-changing event. In the meantime the donated furnishings for their house reside in my garage which fortunately is not needed for a car.

Last week guests in my house had Alexander drive them to Lake Atitlan. As it is now less expensive (gas is even more expensive there than here) to pay a driver's expenses than to pay two round trips Alexander was invited to spend two nights at a hotel at Lake Atitlan and to bring Estela along with him. Estela had only ever dreamed of seeing Lake Atitlan which is a 2.5 hour drive from her home. She was curious. We had looked at it on Google Earth along with Chicago, which I suspect was the only city name she knew on the planet outside of Guatemala. I received an email indicating that the two of them had taken the local boat (big, slow, cheap) across the lake in the morning to Panajachel for the day and Alex had reported "aye ... mas o menos" when asked about the boat trip. He phoned me Monday (he always calls when the cell phone companies are offering triple or better minutes) and told me that they had missed the last local boat leaving "Pana" in the evening. Together they did not have the Q300 ($40) for a tourist launch. Ever enterprising, Alexander found a friend who is a tourist guide in Pana and that fellow had a friend who drove a tourist launch who got them a ride back across the lake for Q50 with a bunch of gringos headed for one of the two hotels. Now I know why there are always a few extras in the boats and God bless them for taking care of their own. It was dark, there were waves which the two 90 HP outboard motors attack with a vengeance and it was also pouring rain. I suggested to Alex that Estela may never want to go on vacation with him again. Alexander was in his middle twenties before he ever saw Lake Atitlan (he is only 31 now) and thanks to various gringos he has made several trips there now. Delightful that he could play the tour guide for Estela on his second ever boat ride and I am glad that they both survived the "vacation."

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