Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pub Quiz

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San Pedro

Last night was “Pub Quiz” at El Barrio bar. Pub Quiz is as much an institution on Wednesday evenings in San Pedro as is the barbecue on Sunday. In fact, many of the same people come to both, so there are a lot of familiar faces. Of course, the purpose of the Quiz is to create business for the bar, which it succeeds in doing very well.

Participants in the Quiz create teams of four players. Carl, the owner, suggested that the teams be diversified; that is, a team shouldn’t consist of all Americans or all Canadians and, he said, Australians are on their own. Each team is instructed to choose a name for itself. Our team – the San Pedro Stars – consisted of myself, Bedelia, Gary and Juan Carlos. Two Americans, one half American/half Canadian and a guatemalteco. I have to admit that our diversity wasn’t quite what Carl had suggested and since the Quiz is conducted in English, it was difficult for Juan Carlos. Both Bedelia and Gary did their best to translate the questions into Spanish for Juan Carlos. As for me, I fed Bedelia Spanish words when she was at a loss for them. We developed a sort of symbiotic relationship; I have a lot of vocabulary but she has the fluency. I keep saying I’m going back to Spanish school, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.

A Lot Like Trivial Pursuit

The Quiz is similar to Trivial Pursuit. There are 40 questions in eight categories. There were geography questions – What is the official language of Togo? – religion questions – What religion celebrates Purim? – and Christmas holiday themed questions – From where does England get its Christmas tree that’s placed in Trafalgar Square? My guess was Canada, which made perfect sense to me but to no one else on the team and was incorrect anyway. I did have the answer to what country owns Christmas Island however? I don’t have a clue from where I pulled that information. (Answers below.)

We pretty much bombed in the comedian category. Sound clips of different comedians were played and we were supposed to identify who each one was. I didn’t recognize any of them, but I was expecting comedians that are a generation or two removed from a majority of the players there.

Who Lives in Drury Lane?

There were also nursery rhyme questions. What was Little Miss Muffet eating and who lives in Drury Lane? It was the second question that got me. You know how you just know the answer to something and can’t get it out? I knew who lives in Drury Lane, but I just couldn’t get it out. But sure enough when I heard the answer, I had no trouble getting out an expletive to express my frustration.

Prizes for the winning team included a choice of Q100 in cash, four all-you-can-eat Saturday brunches or a six-pack of imported beer. Q100 sounds like a lot of money, but it’s only $13. There was also the chance to double the money on a hi-low card draw. The San Pedro Stars were anything but; our team came in dead last. But as they say, it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. We were an enthusiastic team and as the underdogs we’re looking to come from behind at the next Pub Quiz.

Scratched Panajachel Plans

Bedelia and I had planned to go to Panajachel on Wednesday morning but canceled our trip due to the wind. It’s been very windy the past few days. Great for drying laundry; not so great for boat rides. We talked about perhaps going to San Juan but deferred the decision while Bedelia went to look at a house and I set off to do some errands “upstairs” as many people refer to town since it’s a steep climb from the two dock areas. I expect to have an extraordinary heart and shapely calf muscles by the time I return home from just walking into town.

We later met up and talked about having some lunch and going to San Juan and in the end decided to just let things unfold. As someone said to me, when he’s asked what he does here all day, his response is that he doesn’t really know but that it takes all day for him to do it. I’m finding that to be very true.

Holiday Baking Challenges

Bedelia and I started walking and we spotted Jan on her balcony. After a brief hello, she invited us in to visit for awhile. Jan is in the midst of her holiday baking, which isn’t without its challenges; finding ingredients and operating the stove. While Jan has a much more elaborate stove than my Barbie’s Dream House oven, both stoves come down to the same basic issue: temperature control. Basically, Guatemalan stoves have two settings: On and Off, or Maximum and Minimum. You set the control to Maximum to light the burner and then turn it down towards Minimum. However, there seems little difference between Maximum and Minimum and a pot will boil as much at Minimum as it will at Maximum.

Ovens present an even greater challenge because they don’t have any temperature settings. Like the stovetop, the oven is either on or off and unless you can find an oven thermometer – a simple household item not easily found here – you’re on your own to guestimate the temperature and the cooking time. Something in the oven can go from raw to incinerated in seconds. Jan’s secret is to turn the heat off and on and to open and close the oven door a couple of time during the cooking cycle.

She hesitantly took out a banana bread cake she had baked earlier in the morning. She was afraid that it was ruined because the bottom was a bit overdone. However, the cake proved to be moist and delicious. She says she’s going to place some aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to act as a heat diffuser. I don’t know how well that will work since the only aluminum foil I’ve seen here is thin enough to read a newspaper through.

The Price Is Not Right

One of my reasons for wanting to go to Pana yesterday was to look for a toaster oven. Since we didn’t go, we went to an appliance/furniture/bedding/stereo/TV you-name-it store here in town. Turns out the store is not unlike Rent-a-Center where you make monthly payments toward owning something that would have cost a fraction of the price almost anywhere else if you were able to afford it.

The store had one toaster oven. A Panasonic. Not a deluxe model by any means, but it would have been adequate for my purpose. The price seemed right, too. Under $20. That is, until the saleswoman told us that was por mes – per month. The actual cost was closer to $76. If this were The Price Is Right, I would put the cost of this particular toaster oven at $29.95. Take off the brand name and save $10. At least now I have a basis for comparison when I do get to the Walmart in Xela.

A Leisurely Lunch

As for lunch, Bedelia and I ended up at Casa Blanca, a restaurant and hostel owned by an Israeli and frequented by the many Israelis who pass through town. Casa Blanca has an excellent hummus platter served with pita bread and sour vegetables, which really taste better than they sound, that we shared. At Q32 (under $3.00), I couldn’t buy the hummus on the platter alone at home for this price.

After lunch, well, it was time for siesta until Pub Quiz.

(Pub Quiz Answers: French; Judaism; Norway; Australia; curds and whey; the Muffin Man. How many did you get correct?)

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