Tuesday, September 15, 2015


when I was in Guatemala, everyone told me i had to go to Panjachel (Pahn-Ha-CHELL) it was a remote mountain village, by a lake, near a volcano, and I'd love it for its isolation and pure beauty. I made it a destination, and, sure enough, pretty soon I got there, my dirty pack, my old walking shoes, my wide-open eyes.

This one hippie guy was there to meet me, for some reason. he was Guatemalan, but he must have recognized a kindred spirit. we bought a dinner at the market, for about seven cents, and we sat down at a table by the open harbor. sure enough, there were mountains around the lake, volcanos even. the air was high, cool, cloudy, beautiful. My Spanish still wasn't great, especially since the Guatemalan variety was different still from the Mexican version I was used to; communication was difficult. He was nice, though; he lived there, and enjoyed his life in a remote, beautiful place.

I was reminded of other remote, faraway destinations, or places where people like to live, just to be in such a remote and beautiful location. Lighthouses are classic examples, out on the edge of the sea. Alaska offered many remote cabins, beautiful locations, places where you could probably buy land for a reasonable price and settle in for the long haul.

In Panjachel, I believe people moved in for the trade in beautiful, colorful clothes. The locals were in the habit of using bright colors to make beautiful things, and they were available for a small price; obviously, if you were from the norte, you could come down, pick up a load of these, and make your vacation a money-making venture. On top of that, you could stay at this remote volcano-rimmed lake, swim, relax, and breathe the mountain air.

I had two problems with that scenario. First, I was people-oriented, and knew from experience that I had trouble when I was isolated for more than about a month. But the second was more serious. I was thoroughly not attuned to monetary values, so I was the wrong person to go into such a business. A person can develop a keen eye for jewelry, clothing, boots, guitar straps, etc., knowing what will sell and what won't, but a person can't just pick up the desire to be like that, or the inborn ability to keep one's eye on every little piece. Years later I met someone who was like that, and did that for a living, and it was interesting knowing her, but just in watching her for maybe an hour, basically selling jewelry and watching it at the same time, I knew I couldn't have done that.

There would be other ways of making it in Panjachel. I still think about it, since now I'm in a flat, sunny frying pan of a place where I feel a little oppressed by the vast openness of it, the burning sun on the hot pavement. A cool mountain lake town would do me good right about now, but I don't have the economic structure set up. Oh well, a dream deferred.


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