Saturday, February 11, 2012

How the Guatemalans do a Vendor Gig

This is especially for all of my vendor friends.  How would you like a permanent booth space, well located, great huh? Now let's say you have to build the booth from some sticks, and some rough boards everyday. This is the family's vendor space out the window of my apartment in Panajachel.
The dad of the family, who looks in his 60's, where did those young kids come from?, comes every morning about 6:30am and begins to build the structure.
Along the wall, there are a few 1x2's left attached permanently, so that helps in that area. Off to the side he creates 8 extra feet, free standing with a few sticks and one long continuous rope.  He builds a platform, lays the boards together in the right order, no nails are ever used. The long poles are woven to each other in a large square.

Building the booth, alone, every morning
Check it out, the addition is made! All of the supporting poles and the cross poles are tied using the same long rope. I have watched him breakdown and the rope just keeps going as he un-loops each area.To tie the higher areas which he can't reach, he makes the loops using the pole in his hand. He never gets on the chair, building or breakdown! Some kind of amazing art just keeps going on.

Now the tablecloths go on and an awning, more sticks, is fashioned.  As the day goes on, he will remove the awning. When it rains, plastic replaces the cloth awning.
The merchandise goes out.  At some point here, mom and an about 12 years old girl sometimes shows up. Depends on if it is a school day, the children go to school from 7am to 1pm. I have seen a small boy, not sure if he is theirs. Dad gets some help with the last bit of merchandise. The set up takes 3 hours!

The family sells all day, into the night. Break down takes an hour if all the family helps out. All of the structural work is only done by the man. I have seen them take a day off, I hear from others this is not usual.

Mom and Dad sit waiting for customers

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guatemala Bound

Don’t you just love airports? It’s all out entertainment. The porters, they are so nice, then run off with your stuff at a dead run. Oh no, my shoe lace came untied, “Do I chance it?” I’m lucky, been this route before, I know where he is going.   From the airport bus to the terminals, there is an elevator, he has to stop and wait. I catch up, out the elevator, there he goes, again. He waits after my bag has been placed in front of the line, has too, he needs to get paid. If one is early, you get a seat in the front of the plane. No waiting when it is time to “disembark”. You get your bags first (maybe) and get through customs first and easy. So I am early, more airport fun. 

There are two choices when waiting. 1) The stores – book stores can be some of the greatest. The boutiques are top notch and top prices, if someone told you to get great deals at the duty free, they are uninformed or they lied. The window shopping or idea grabbing is fantastic. Check out these boots I found with hand embroidered Mexican designs! I want these. Nope, I did not even look at the price. 

Mexican or From the States?
2) The food courts, even better than the general waiting areas for people watching. Oh yes, you can grab a bite to eat, as your cover. In Mexico City, this means anything from McDonald's to specialty foods.  Me, I kicked back with a plate of Chinese veggies and rice. Let's settle in for some  real fun. It’s here you see the traveler, the workers, and in Mexico City, the folks who live near by and come to hang. Now we get to my favorite game when I have ran out of books and no one wants to give free internet. Guessing who is who and what their story might be.Take a look at this family.  At first glance, regular Mexican family. Absolutely not! Only a tourist would wear such a hat, even the rancho guys around San Miguel would not wear such a thing.  The kid is the give away, his t-shirt (has a weird creature on it) says I am from the states. They have been to see Grandma, and on their way back home.
Two Women Backpackers - Tell Me Your Story 
Two women backpacking. Mother and daughter? I will let you make up your own story. Maybe, one is German. Yes both, German backpackers on their way to Costa Rica. What's your story?

The Airport Workers

The two girls taking their break from their cleaning jobs.  Man is she mad, they have made her clean the lost baggage area all morning. There is an open bay to the outside and it is freezing!

Now, after we have had all of that fun, begins the time of doubt. Is my plane really coming to this gate? They always change it at the last minute. Am I the only one who doesn’t know?  Oh look, they are boarding my flight, at the gate next to the gate it is supposed to be. It is a bit early, about 30 minutes early?  No, people are going on the plane, the attendants are not calling the seat numbers like normal.  Did I miss all of that while buried in my computer?  I am going up, so I did, pack up the computer and walked into a half full plane. Have they changed the time? They do that sometimes, at least I am on board. So we sit, and sit. Why do they not turn the air on, I can’t breathe. Twenty minutes or more has passed, now I feel the plane is moving, down the tarmac we go.   Plane stops and we wait, again.  You bet, in the end we leave 10 minutes late.  I am off to Guatemala and can’t wait to start my journey.