Today, we had a very fully packed adventure with lots of collection and general housekeeping items to get off our list. We met around 7:30 with our the gardener Mario who also cares for Isle Verde Hotel. He came to help us plan out our stay and to show us around the Passive House we are living in. It was fun because the information and planning was conducted via hand gestures. He literally doesn’t know anything more than “Hello” and “Thank You” in English and we hardly know anything, so it was quite entertaining. I have decided that everyone should learn Sign Language in the 1st year of life. It is truly the only International form of communication. Thanks to our wonderful friends from the Zen Center Josh, Leah and Josiah we are able to understand the principles behind effective gesturing. The best two pieces of the visit with Mario were receiving a TIGO stick (see the post on the Chicken Bus to find out the significance of this stick) and hiring a nanny / housekeeper. For the nanny / housekeeper we have agreed to pay Q.80 ($55) for 5-days a week for 8-hours a day. This equates to ~$220 a month. I think we both fell over when we found that out. Iza will spend the mornings with her daddy while our “Chica” (as Mario refers to her) cleans and does our laundry by hand. She will then switch over mid-day to watching Iza so Kurt can get some things done. We are excited because she knows absolutely NO ENGLISH and this will force us to learn it. Ana (our landlord) has known Mario for years and trusts him, so we trust him with his selections. His wife Marta and their little 3 year old are coming tomorrow to help set up our new “Chica” and assist with hand gestures (we assume). After our meeting we bustled off to Santa Cruz’s main dock to get a water taxi to Panajachel. Now, we are not just able to walk out our door and down the street to catch our taxi or subway. We have to brave the woods, cross the waterfall and head through many walking paths weaving our way down through the jungle. There are a few other gates and paths along the way, but this is definitely a desolate, single line walking path. Our 20-minute walk ended on a soccer field crafted in a big open space. Of course it was in very poor condition, but nonetheless it was ready and waiting for a patron to play and had two goals and two team boxes. We walked through the field ended up on what used to be the main road. Now the road is under water by about 12’, so we walked on the 2-board plank (maybe 24” wide, rickety and slippery from too much rain) which is elevated around the perimeter of the Santa Cruz lake front. As we walked and looked to our left back at the land, we were sad to see the beautifully tended gardens and original stone walkways inaccessible due to the water height. It is a world beginning to go underwater and nearly every house (there were only 6) had a team of masons building retaining walls for temporary protection from the inevitable. This path took us to the main embaracado which actually sat on a road with tuk tuks and a truck. There was a tiny fruit stand and another 2 more hotels. We saw signs for Spanish lessons available and spent some time talking to some people. It looks like it is roughly $7.50 per 1 hour session with a 1 on 1 teacher. Part of why we came to Guatemala was to learn Spanish, so this is a very important piece of the journey. It was fun to talk about the possibilities of having 6-weeks here to work with the same teacher and really get somewhere with the language. We got on the boat to Pana and after 10 minutes of waiting and finally losing patience I said, “What’s the hold up?” Again was the answer that we needed 10 people to go (so 8 more). This boat had more room, but with just the two of us (Iza doesn’t count) on the boat, I was not encouraged to keep waiting. Just as I was about to lose it on the guy (I am still trying to remove my high-octane spirit from my mind), another boat pulled up going to San Pedro. We decided to take the alternative to go to another town which we heard had a Health Food store owned by an American (low expectations, but excited nonetheless). We jumped on and we were off. Pana is about 30 minutes or so by boat and should cost around Q.10 ($1.20) or Q.15 from Isle Verde, so our expectation was that this might take a few more minutes. At around 50-minutes of transport I started to get antsy. It was beautiful to see the homes and Kurt and I were able to check out the homes that we had seen on AirBnB and to see some of the other homes which are not mostly under water. It is decided that if we stay we will have to buy deep in the hills and anticipate being on water front property in the next few years. It took about an hour or so in total and Q.25 per person to get to San Pedro. WOW! So much more than we expected. We were on the local boat which stopped anytime someone flagged them down at any private or public dock. We now know we need to get on the fast boat. When we got off we headed up the steep hill to the top which took us to the Mercado which is an open air market. Mostly tomatoes which was odd, but there were still vendors. We decided to have lunch and then head out in search of our goods. Of course the lunch spot that we wanted to find didn’t come up on Google, or at least Google couldn’t figure out how to get there even though it had a dot where it was meant to be located, so after wandering around in circles we took a tuk tuk. We ended up going back up and around to the market and heading back down through the calles (avenues). We were literally 1 block off when we got the tuk tuk, but the driver took us on a ride without our knowledge. 🙂 It was humorous when we got off. The restaurant was in a very european set of connected alley’s which created an intricate walking path with incredibly cool cafe’s and bars. Lots of wifi options are available and several Spanish schools. This town is very large and apart of the mainland, so there are lots of opportunities here for working – if I want to take the slow boat to China and back to get here. We found a music shop after lunch and scored Kurt an acoustic guitar for $55 and a real Xylophone for Iza (she likes it, but I love it). Then we went and did our shopping at the market getting tons of rich looking veggies and the essentials like beans, chickpeas, rice, spices, etc. We found also toilet paper, trash bags and tupperware at the Supermarket across the street. The term Supermarket in this case is used as a loose term for a 20’ x 20’ tienda (small store) with a variety of packaged products – mostly processed crap. We knew we wanted to go to the Health Food Store, but again we had very low-expectations, so we wanted to get at the least the essentials prior to going since it was right by the dock. The one item we didn’t find on our list was a cutting board. We went to a million places and asked with no luck. At this point there was a shelf-life with Iza. She is in this new whining phase where she screeches at the top of her lungs and then goes “Huh, huh, huh, huh. Bluh, bluh, bluh” and then screams again. We can’t wait for her to tell us what is actually going on in her head. So we get to the Health Food Store with little time to spare and it is nearly 10’ x 8’ wide. There is one metro rack through the center and a rack on the left and a wooden spice rack on the right. There are a few tables and a pastry case out front. We started looking and almost cried. This deserves its own post, stay tuned. We got back on the boat and while we had originally planned to go to Panajachel, we had gotten most of what we needed, so we decided to head home. While on the boat we meet two very nice Americans staying at Isle Verde and one was Puerto Rican who spoke Spanish. He communicated where we were going (as did I in my Spanglish) to the boat attendant. When we got off we were expected to pay Q.25 / head and he and his partner only had to spend Q.20 / head. I said, “What?!” in a very annoyed manner and Kurt said, “Its the English-speaking up charge honey.” I didn’t fight it. We set off for our journey to our home, we managed to piece together our new kitchen and Kurt started a fire. We had our first proper day and now night in our new home. It was brilliant. We feel home and happy here.