Nanny Wars – Mayan Style

I mean, come on. We are apparently all the same around the world and it is just full on pathetic that we can’t all get along and work together as a global community. Right?!

So when we started this journey we relied on Mario (our devoted gardener) to set us up and get our life in order as our landlord Ana had recommended. For Q.80 a day ($10) we had a full time nanny who cleans our house! Kind of insane considering that is above their typical working wage and is considered a very good salary.

We loved the initial two ladies he set up to come. Mario called them ‘Chica’s’ so we did too! The first was Clara. We thought this was his wife, but it turns out to be his wife’s cousin. She has a little girl named Maria who is 9. Marta came on day 3 and she was warm, smiley and very in control. It felt like she understood us and we saw eye to eye and she has a little girl with Mario named Adriana who is 3. On Week 2, day 1 we had a new nanny come and her name was Cecilia. She was Marta’s sister and looked so similar we actually didn’t know it wasn’t Marta until 2 hours in. This continued for another week: Cecilia on Mondays, Clara on Tuesdays, Marta on Wednesday, Clara on Thursdays and Marta on Friday. On week 3 we were graced on Monday with a new lady, this time Marta & Cecilia’s mom. At that point I totally broke down on Mario and said, “We can take 2, but not any more. This is outrageous.” He fixed it and we were back to just Marta and Clara.

But then we decided to move. Clara’s husband Jose works at this Casa and when she found out we wanted to leave she told us that she had a place for us to look at. We didn’t really understand what she said until we ended up at this new Casa and we were being introduced to her husband and her sweet daughter Maria again. It was so strangely warm and kind of weird at the same time. So, we signed up and moved in. We talked to Marta and it was still our understanding that we would have Clara everyday except Wednesday and that Marta would be here then.

Yesterday morning Clara said to us that Marta didn’t know if she could come on Wednesday and would we be okay if she (Clara) came instead. Being silly foreigners we really didn’t think too much into it and didn’t even really consider that the sweet-natured Mayan woman would be able to manipulate the situation so well. Then around 11am we get this text from Marta:

Hola buenas tardes, espero que esten bien solo quiero avisarles que no llegare mañana con ustedes Clara no quiere, esta enojado con migo y no quiero tener problemas. fue un plaser conoserlos son muy amables y muy buenos. muchas gracias por trabajar con ustedes que Dios les bendiga y cuiden mucho a IZA UN BESITO.


Loosely translated it basically says, she is very angry at Clara and that she will not be coming but she wishes us all the best and that she loves Iza.

Awesome. DRAMA.

We kind of freaked out, but really didn’t know what to do. We absolutely love Marta and adore Mario. Adriana is 3, so Iza really relates to her and has so much fun when they play. Mario even said that Adriana goes to sleep every night saying, “Iza, Iza, Iza.” We feel in some ways like they are very cool and similar to us. We would definitely like to be friends with them. So, we invited Mario and Marta over for dinner tonight so we can get the scoop, but for now we are playing nice with Clara.

It is just too freakin’ funny. Nanny Wars… Mayan Style.

Casita Blanca Lago de Atitlan

Hello idyllic on all levels – name a cliche and this is it.

The sun is streaming into the windows to Casita Blanca as if I have never experienced sun streaming before. The birds are chirping and the waterfall next to our house is gushing. The lake off in the distance is glistening and we are alone in the jungle, deep in the mayan mountains 15 minutes to the nearest building or house on foot. We have a small yard, maybe an acre all around, and it is very well tended. The walkway to the house is serious hiking with no other access route and when you open the gate to the garden it is like paradise unfolding. The lack of access means our little house is a gem, and just as we wanted, very remote. You can’t hear cars, trains, buses or boats. In fact, you wouldn’t know anyone else existed on the planet unless you stood on top of the roof and looked out at the world below.

Iza is playing just inside the door while I sit on the veranda writing. She is so happy… toddling around and playing with new things in the cracks, little leaves which have blown onto the porch, a piece of grass and tugging at my pant leg. She is finally able to spread out and be in 1 place. We are so happy to know that we can give this to her for a little while.

We forgot to bring food with us yesterday when we got to our new home, so we had to venture out to the hotel at the end of our trail to Isle Verde Eco Hotel. “Isle” I have found out is pronounced like Isla Fisher, not “Aisle” as I had learned in French. The restaurant at Isle Verde is wonderful, and very accommodating. This space is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The grounds are astonishing and again well cared for. We knew the woman who owns Casita Blanca also owned the hotel and her vision was richly positioned in the planet. It appears she wanted to give the earth back to her guests in a well-designed and comfortable fashion. She accomplished it and then some.

From the new owner of the Hotel Raleigh (who has the name of one of our friends son and who is actually from Pensacola, FL which is where we have our mail house – in all our travels we have collectively only ever met 1 other person who is from there) we find out that in the last 4 years he has been on the lake the water has risen 20’. In the last 2 weeks during the rainy season it has grown 5’. This has taken out his beach and now is heading up and into his main reception area and kitchen. It is terrifying to hear, but interesting to understand from Raleigh that the lake works in an 80 year cycle in which the water grows and then it will fall (we didn’t ask where we were in the cycle). The Mayan calendar is very calculated and in some ways historically accurate. He mentioned that he thought he would have another year before he would have to build a retaining wall, but it looks like he will have to do it now.

There is seldom strong internet in any of the towns around the lake, but the ones that do have it use a satellite ping. There are no hard lines. When the clouds are in the way, the internet goes out. Great. Not really ideal for me, and especially now knowing that we are in a true eco house with only solar panels to power it and being here in the rainy season, we have pretty low expectations for a successful working opportunity. But rest assured – there is this incredible water taxi transportation system and I can go about 45 minutes on a direct boat or 1 hour on the slow boat to San Pedro (the cool hippy town with tons of great cafes and hard wired internet) or to Panajachel which is only 30 minutes away. I have begun looking for an office which is looking like we will rent a whole other house for around $500 a month. Kind of nutty, but worth it to know we can work.

More to come, but this is the start of our very great new life in Santa Cruz de Laguna, Lago de Atitlan.