Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, April 22, 2024

Smelling funky here: Stories from A to Z

 I didn’t shower first thing, because I wasn’t ready to make myself that much at home in this room. I pulled on my Doc Martens and went outside to see how the neighborhood looked in daylight. 

It wasn’t too bad, a typical neighborhood of a Latin city, similar to Antofagasta. I walked a few blocks, looking for a tienda to buy my morning diet Coke. 

Returning to the room, I drank my soda, wrote in my journal, checked work email and then felt comfortable enough to shower and change into clean clothes. The shower turned out to be a pleasant surprise, with good pressure and plenty of hot water. Feeling better, I decided to go exploring and find the beach. 

I headed west, weaving through city blocks, keeping my turns to a minimum as to not get lost on the way back. I finally reached a section of ocean lined with piles of boulders and pelicans, my favorite birds. They exude peace and contentment, how they float along whether in the air or on the water. They know how to get the job done without overly exerting themselves. I took pictures of them landing gracefully on the boulders. 

In the distance, I saw a length of sandy beach and headed in that direction. As I crossed a parking lot behind an apartment complex, I observed an older man going from car to car placing small fliers under car windshields. We greeted one another and he handed me a flier, explaining that he was a chef and would deliver ready-made meals to my home. 

“Oh, thanks but I’m in a hotel and only staying a few days.” 

He switched to English and asked me where I was from and told me where he had lived in the US when he worked as a cook. “Where are you going?” he asked, looking around at the parking lot as though this was an odd place for a tourist staying in a hotel to be.

 “To the beach,” I replied, gesturing in the general direction. “I wasn’t sure how to get there from my hotel.”

After chatting awhile, he offered to take me in his car as I was way off track. Since I felt no warning signals from him, I agreed. His car was right there in the parking lot. I'm not sure why I did this, since getting into a car with a stranger is way beyond my comfort zone.

As he drove, he talked to me in English and pointed out several landmarks for me to use next time I wanted to walk to the beach. When we got close to where I could see the boardwalk, a park, and the sandy beach, I said this was fine, he could let me off here. He pulled over to the side and waved at a passerby who he seemed to know. 

“My number is on the flier if you need anything or want a meal brought to your hotel. All fresh ingredients and ready to enjoy.” I thanked him and let myself out, then walked for awhile on the boardwalk.

Iquique Beach Park

When I was ready to return to the hotel, I followed the landmarks he had pointed out and found my way back without having to go behind apartment buildings and across parking lots.

On the way, I bought several bananas to eat with peanut butter for my main meal along with my store of mixed nuts. I didn’t want to buy food in this town, despite passing several restaurants, because it smelled and felt dirty. It wasn’t just the hotel. The whole place had this strange, unpleasant smell.

But the chef had been nice enough. Friendly, helpful and not at all creepy.


  1. Do you think you will order from his place?

    1. I probably should have since I didn't eat much during that stay except bananas, peanut butter and nuts. But I no, I didn't call him.

  2. Some places are just unpleasant and there's no getting away from that.

  3. What a nice encounter. Did you have him deliver any meals? The beach looks nice.

    1. I never did, Mary. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting!

  4. Like you I adore pelicans. Their dinosaur ancestry is very evident. I am glad that your encounter with the chef was positive, shame about the town though.

    1. Yes, they look like such an ancient bird. You can easily imagine them flying above the dinosaurs before the Ice Age.

  5. It's too bad the place feels dirty to you, and spoil some of the fun of visiting a new place. But if it gets too rough, go back and visit your pelicans again. I need to learn from them and "get the job done without over exerting myself."

  6. It's a relief that your instincts didn't lead you wrong. I love watching birds, also. Being at an ocean can be so peaceful and at least you had a place to spend time in besides that hotel.


Comments are welcome!