New Year’s Eve, Dec 31, 2012

Well the plan was, I was going on a one-week road trip out of Panajachel with Steve and Elisabeth.  I kind of dreaded the long ride in a truck, but I felt it was rude not to go with them.  So this morning I got as far as packing my stuff into the back of their pickup truck, and I contemplated spending 8 hours or more on the road the first day in the back of the truck under a canopy, and I backed out at the last minute. They departed and I’m in their beautiful house by myself for a week thanks to their kindness and generosity.  This is ideal for me, just perfect. I went to the mercado this morning and stocked up on fruit, vegs, eggs, cheese, avocados, tortillas. I’m not ready to buy meat off of hooks.

There’s a musician named Ted who plays with Steve. Ted grew up as a child of  Baptist missionaries in the Belgian Congo and has lived in Guatemala for 20 years.  I asked him if I could sit in with him at his gig at Chinita’s, just for fun (he’d get all the tips).  He agreed and I spent 3 or 4 hours accompanying him on New Year’s Eve.  He sang and played his songs on guitar, and I accompanied him on accordion.  There was an English couple who effusively praised the music and they were insisting that Ted had to play until midnight, and then when they were leaving, they left him a tip of 5 quetzales (56 cents U. S.).  Ling,  the Chinese woman who owns Chinita’s, already treats me like a regular.  When I asked her for a beer, she asked me to do her a favor and go in the kitchen and get it myself out of the refrigerator.

The other news is that I have another gig in a couple of weeks, at Posada de Santiago, a posh joint across the lake in the town of Santiago Atitlan.  At this rate, Tio Yascha may be headed toward a more successful career in Guatemala than in the U. S.

Here’s a photo of Lago de Atitlan, taken from a vantage point that a professional postcard photographer would not have chosen.  The lake is about 100 miles in circumference and is at the bottom of a huge caldera.  In the foreground, Rio Atitlan flows into the lake.  In the background are three volcanoes that grew up in the caldera after the initial eruption.