Saturday 08th Oct – Our apartment in Pana

So after a full week of work we have decided to have some relaxing time today and wanted to show you more about the fabulous bungalow we are renting here in Pana.  It is in a small complex with 4 other smaller apartments and a fantastic garden.  They are all owned by an American film director called Murray Mintz who runs a local school here.  He dropped by for a chat one night and really helped to make us feel welcome.  He lives in a much nicer place set up into the cliff face above us which has 150 steps and told us that he designed this particular bungalow as a retirement place for him when he can no longer manage such a climb!

Murray employs a lovely local couple to look after the complex.  The housekeeper is called Otilia and her husband looks after the grounds and maintenance.  They don’t speak any English and neither does Steve so we have to rely on Emma’s pigeon Spanish and Google Translator!  We have found them to be so friendly and even asked them to help us with a local problem we had when we didn’t understand why it had happened.

Outside of our complex, you find yourself on a long, dusty winding road straight into town (usually about a 10 minute walk).  We seem to be at the poor end where all of the locals live and buy things.  Immediately you happen across a small home with a sign outside advertising laundry services so we enquired inside (always wanting to put business to locals).  The old woman inside told us no problem and it would be 10Quetzales (£1) to have them back the next day.  We returned with our laundry and her (assumed) daughter now told us it would be 32Q.  Not wanting to haggle over such a small amount, we agreed and said we would return tomorrow afternoon.  We did wonder how it would all get dried with a massive rain and thunderstorm all evening!

The next day (Wednesday), Emma set off into town and was shocked to find her underwear strung out in the street across a barbed wire fence!!  All of our clothes had been hung there to dry covered in nettles and insects with no sign of our nice new net wash bags.  The ‘laundry’ was closed and so we had no way to ask for our bags back.  After a day of Emma ranting about being ‘ripped off’ she wrote a letter to the housekeeper explaining what had happened and asked if this was normal and also if she could possibly help to retrieve our bags.  We gave this to Otilia (our housekeeper) that evening and she rushed off to find her daughter who could speak English for us.  They explained that they are simply poor people and this is to be expected as they do not normally deal with foreigners – there is a ‘laundromat’ in the town centre that most tourists use.  She insisted on washing our clothes again because of all of the insects and weed residue and also promised to retrieve our bags – which she did.

We were so lucky that we had them to advise us on this and we plan to leave them a few goodies as a way of a thank you when we leave tomorrow.  It is such a shame that we cannot do business with the locals here in Panajachel directly – so far we have found that unless you know the area and who to deal with it is very easy to get ripped off.  Our taxi here was supposed to be 20Q and then charged us 50Q when we arrived!!