Friday, December 6, 2013

Cleaning Day

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San Pedro

(Note: Please excuse me if you’ve emailed me and it takes awhile for me to respond to you. I’m not ignoring you; it’s this miserable USB modem I had to purchase to have any Internet access at all from my apartment. Sometimes I’ll have five bars and sometimes I’ll have one bar. Most of the time, after I’ve logged in, it will go from four or five bars to one bar in the blink of an eye. So I’ve been relying on a local Internet café where for the price of a café con leche I can sit an suck up the Wi-Fi, although, today, it, too, was running slow.)

Cleaning Day

I’m in a bit of a hurry this morning. Lesley, the cleaning person, is coming to clean the apartment this afternoon at one o’clock. But I had to come to the Internet café to download last night’s episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. I understand that next week is the season finale of Scandal and I have too much time invested in the series not to miss an episode.

Earlier this morning, Isabel, the landlord’s wife, knocked on the door to let me know that Lesley would be coming today and every Friday from here on. I’m not sure I understood everything Isabel was telling me. My Spanish is bad and her English is pretty non-existent. I think I’m to track Lesley’s hours and to report them to Isabel, and I hope I got it across that I would like to have the bed sheets changed. There’s only one set of sheets in the apartment and I’m afraid that if I wash them, they won’t dry in time to put back on the bed before I go to sleep.

While it’s convenient having a washing machine here, the dryer is of the solar variety, and I have to share that with my non-verbal neighbor who had the audacity to use my clothespins. My first encounter with the washing machine was an enlightening experience. It’s a full-size, top loading, American-style Whirlpool. There is no temperature selector. No need. There’s only one temperature setting anyway: cold. But the real challenge was the cycle selector. How naive I was to think the selector would be in English because it’s a Whirlpool? The electrical hazard warning is in English, but not the cycle selector. What’s with that? I did eventually figure it out, though.

Barbie’s Dream House Oven Also a Challenge

I’m happy to report that my small dinner party with Gary on Wednesday turned out well. I made meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. Real American comfort food.  Much like it took a village to help me find a saucepan, it also took a village to cook the dinner. Barbie’s Dream House oven doesn’t have any temperature markings. You set the regulator to maximum and as the gas starts pouring into the oven, you hold a match or a sparker to light the burner, much like you would do with an outdoor gas grill. I had never used a sparker no less seen one. I knew I would need matches to light the stove, and given the quality of Guatemalan matches, I opted to get a butane gas lighter in Antigua. It wasn’t until I got to San Pedro that I realized I had picked up a sparker instead. No problem. It accomplishes the same thing only instead of a flame it creates a spark to light the gas. Just imagine a Taser except that the sparker uses one AA battery. I may bring it home to light my grill. In any event, Gary had to advise me on the oven settings. I think I have the hang of it now.

Another Happy Reunion

Yesterday, another of our friends, Bedalia, arrived in town, and we had a wonderful reunion dinner at The Clover. I met Bedalia on my last trip. She left to go back to the States about a week before I did, and her leaving was very depressing to me. So it was especially good to see her and hear what she had been doing over the past five months. Thursday nights are “Steak Night” at The Clover and for Q75 – the equivalent of $9.50 – I had filet mignon in a sesame ginger sauce that was absolutely fantastic with mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes.

How to Make Your Own Swiffer

I’m happy to report that I was home in plenty of time for Lesley and that she did a fantastic job of  cleaning the place. I didn’t fully realize how dusty it really was. She worked steadily for two hours. It was interesting to see her version of a Swiffer. You take an old towel, double it over and cut a hole so that it slips over the handle of a broom and covers the bristles. Dampen the towel first. Next, you use an old liquid detergent bottle filled with cleaning solution, which you splatter on the floor and then mop it with your Swiffer substitute. What a great way to recycle old towels.

Tomorrow I have a lunch date with Diana, another old acquaintance, whom I was glad to see is still in town. She works for a non-profit organization and last I saw her before I left, she was going to Africa. That didn’t happen, however. Lucky for me. It’s been really great catching up with friends here.

Also tomorrow, my friend Jan is due back in town from Belize where she was “exiled” when an alert Guatemalan customs officer noticed that her passport had expired. No amount of pleading or cajoling would convince him to let her back into Guatemala and it took awhile for her to receive a temporary passport. I’m looking forward to hearing the details of her “exile.” It couldn’t have been all bad; she apparently ate a lot of lobster.

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