A Guatemalan home

I was privileged to visit some new Guatemalan friends in their Lake Atitlán home. This family is not from the lake but moved here a few years ago. They rent this home from the landlord who lives next door. This home is off a paved street that is rather wide, has a proper car area and a sidewalk (albeit narrow) that is more of a height that someone in the US is used to as opposed to the very high (you need steps) sidewalks I have experienced in Honupduras and Mexico.

Stepping out of the tuk-tuk we stepped up onto the sidewalk, then through the gate onto this property, then down a step inside the gate. Directly ahead was one home, the landlord’s. This home is beside the landlord’s closer to the road, so we walk along a short dirt path toward the right that followed the sidewalk’s line, just one length of the single home, then turn left through their gate and are in their front yard.

The home is a style I have never seen before. My friends told me the builder built all the homes on the street this way. In front there is a nice wide tiled patio with a solid awning. Off the patio, in a single line, are three metal doors with key locks, much like a motel. Each door has narrow opaque textured and colored glass pane to let in some light. This glass is covered by a decorative metal scroll for security. Beside each door is a single window of three vertical panes with a decorative semi-circle arch of colored glass above.

From left to right the doors are to the kitchen, a large bedroom, another large bedroom. After the second bedroom, in the same position as another room would be, is the washing area, which has an outdoor but covered laundry sink and the door to the bathroom. The kitchen has no sink and no running water, nor a connection for one. The water source for cooking and for cleaning dishes is the wash sink at the far end of the house. My hosts tell me this is not common in their experience and they don’t like it, but it happens that the landlord’s home has its water far from the house, well outside their home.

The two bedrooms have the same nice reddish marble patterned tiled floor as the patio the connects them. The kitchen floor is smooth, painted cement. It is a dark rich red to match the tiles it meets. The walls are a roughly textured cement. They are painted. In the homes of the Mayan people around the lake no home is painted and paint is for only the gringos as it is expensive. My friends are from The City and are used to paint. They painted it, I believe.

I am not sure what the roof is built of but it is a real roof and is sturdy. The inside ceiling seems to be a thin, smooth wood that reminds me a bit of American plasterboard but is not plaster. It is kept strong by exposed wooden strips of about 1′ x 2″ that form large squares.

The bedrooms are simply four-walled rooms. There are no build-in closets. Nor are there any built-in methods to store or hang clothing, such as a clothing rod or shelves. All such items must be supplied by the resident. (This was the same in the homes in Roatan. Many early American homes were like that too. Actually, most of the homes in the world seem to be this way.)

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