Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reading in Panajachel

Photo: Lake Attitlan (and two volcanoes).

During my Guatemala mission I did have some free time to walk the streets of Panajachel.  Near one "internet cafe" I also located a bookstore--an establishment that, as the sign on the door touted, was "the largest bookstore in Pana!"

I visited twice, didn't buy anything, but was fascinated by the fact that all of the books were English editions--with not a single volume in French, German, or Spanish.  Evidently this Mayan market catered heavily to the American visitor, and all books were shelved alphabetically by author name.

I checked the "O" section, to see if there were any of my titles in stock.  There were not, but I did locate at least one Joel Osteen book. (I had to smirk, thinking that some tourist had to dump Joel's book in Panajachel, or didn't regard it as weighty enough to deserve return in the luggage.)

At Tom's residence, where I stayed for four nights, I also found used books left behind by the former owner, including a Philip Roth novel and a massive collection of "Facts" anthology edited by Isaac Asimov . . . one of the hundreds of books he produced and yet another I had never read.

Mostly, my reading in Panajachel consisted of attempting to translate the Spanish storefronts and menues.  As most tourists promise--I made it a point to say that the next time I come to Guatemala, I'm brushing up on my Spanish first, so that I can be more conversant.   

Eventually, however, one settles into the delusion that he or she is part of the social fabric.  I was one of dozens of Gringos I encountered along the way, but quickly came to realize that I was not all that conspicuous, nor did I want to be.  Just as I was beginning to "fit in" . . . finding my way through town, learning the streets and the shortcuts, locating favorite eateries . . . it was time to go.

I did bring back a Spanish Bible.  Muy Bien.

One of these days, I'm going to attempt to read it. 


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