Bears In Pana: Day 1

I have retitled this post "Bears In Pana: Day 1" to start a chronicle of our visit to Panajachel with daily posts. What's with the title? Some of you may know that Leiane and I call each other 'Bear' (she does it and lot more than me - even in public!) It is a shortened form of our nicknames for each other - Vinnybear and Lannybear.

We are so excited to post about our first visit to Guatemala and tell you guys all about it. As many of you know, we have been planning this for many months, and this is our initial trip to get our rental home ready and get our bearings for when our whole family moves here in a few weeks. Here are some photos, videos and initial comments on our experience on our first day.

Just a bit of luggage
Sebastian was so excited to get on a plane, he had been talking about it for days.
Sebastian looking out the window, waiting for takeoff
Awww, he fell asleep and missed his first takeoff and landing...
Sebastian was ready for his second flight, from Ft Lauderdale, FL to Guatemala City - so many "Whoohoo's"!
After the airport, our transport took us to Walmart to get some essentials for the house (yes there is a Walmart here too). It has been quite a while since we have walked into a home that had nothing - no food, no cleaning supplies, etc. Planning for the 'essentials' is a new feat.

A family in the congregation generously sacrificed a large portion of their day to show us around town - where to shop, bank, eat, etc. Calle Principal and Calle Santander are where you will find most of Pana's restaurants, pacas (used clothing stores), and mercado (market).

We arrive at our new home at about 4:50pm (Central Time). Guatemala is CST and does not observe DST. We were so wiped out from the day of travel that we did not get to enjoy it fully. That's ok - more for tomorrow.
Downhill Calle Principal
Uphill Calle Principal. On the right, you see Sandra's Supermarket - one of the more popular stores for Americans to buy things they are used to seeing in the States.
The mercado has all the fresh produce you need - but it's good to go with someone who knows who to buy from and how not to get taken advantage of. Be sure to wash your fruits and veggies! Slip up and you could have an unhappy couple of days.
Remember food trucks in the States? They've got them here too. Guatemalan food is not 'Mexican spicy.' I like my food spicy, and while their food may have some flavor, it's more bland to me. That said, fresh made tortillas and grilled chicken is usually pretty good, but caveat emptor - let the buyer beware!
This is probably the most popular grocery store, Despensa Familiar. When you come in, you have to put your bags, backpacks, etc in a locker (to prevent theft). You keep the key and collect your things when you leave.
Inside Despensa Familiar
Getting back home after a tuk ride (Sebastian loves tuk rides).
Upon arriving back at our house, we find a welcome note from a couple in the congregation.
So great to feel the love and hospitality of Jehovah's people in a different part of the world!

Sebastian feels on top of the world! At nearly 5,300 feet above sea level, it's no wonder. He is really enjoying the yard of our new home. It was a bit overcast today, but the view of the mountains from here is quite spectacular. We even have our own little waterfall we hear if we leave the window open at night.
A bouquet of flowers Leiane made from the flowers growing in our yard - beautiful!

Boys will be boys! Sebastian finds a 'secret' way to exit the house.

That's all for now; we still haven't unpacked or ironed our clothes, so there is still much to do. We have a decent idea of where our house is and where to shop, but we have not been to the Kingdom Hall yet, nor have we been out in the ministry - so there are many adventures and pictures to come.
A lot of people have asked to see more pictures of the house, but Leiane would not like it if I posted any yet. We have a bit of cleanup, unpacking and situating to do first.

We hope everyone back 'home' is doing well; we miss you all and are grateful for the support and encouragement we have received from you now and in the past months.

We will be here for two weeks, return home for two weeks, then move here with the whole family.

Oh yeah - more great news! We got a cash offer on our house today! Pending all the paperwork and processes, we should close within 2-3 weeks.

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