Note: please excuse typos/grammar. This is meant to be a living document and will be updated with progress and notes. Next in the series is here.
My family and I traveled to Panajachel, Guatemala every summer for 6 years to help with Christian ministry in Panajachel (Pana) and after school activities for Centro Educative Josue from 2012–2018. After our girls graduated college and started careers and lives of their own, our family trips to Pana ended, but our love for what we did and the people of Pana and Guatemala did not.
My surgical practice and entrepreneurial endeavors started to consume all my time and energy.
Over the last 12–18 months, our desire to re-engage with the community reignited, so my wife and I began to pray about opportunities.
In early 2021, I learned about Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador. And the wheels started turning. My desire was to bring the Bitcoin Beach model to Panajachel which is a beautiful town on lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands. Lake Atitlan is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world; however, looks can be deceiving. The lake is surrounded by farming communities. The farmers don’t use sustainable techniques and use chemicals which eventually find their way into the lake. And like in most developing countries, infrastructure and environmental protection aren’t a priority for the government. In the fishing villages around the lake, debris in the water and on the land is a common site.
The goal is to create a Bitcoin circular economy in Pana. To help Centro Educative Josue with their school programs and funding needs. To incentivize clean-up of Lake Atitlan. And create economic opportunity for this small but vibrant Guatemalan town.
Once this is accomplished and/or progressing, the goal will be to engage the other communities around the lake to do the same.
The long-term goal would be to bring Bitcoin mining to Pana and help build out a better power infrastructure grid for the community.
On my podcast, Mission:Bitcoin, I’ve had the pleasure to chat with Chimbera from Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador. Chimbera’s experience in El Zonte informs us that trying to educate merchants or older users first is not the correct approach. Chimbera has a love for the young people in his community. A community, like most in Central and South America, where opportunities are limited for them. The only choice for many is between getting involved in gangs or immigrating to America. Teaching young people about Bitcoin first provides an enthusiastic corp to help “evangelize” Bitcoin adoption.
The plan would be to start with Centro Educative Josue and educate the children in the school about Bitcoin. This accomplishes two goals immediately: 1) Introducing a new technology to the children in the school which will provide immediate opportunities for these children to prepare for the wave of Bitcoin innovation. With El Salvador next door, these young people can be prepared for the hiring boom expected for Spanish speaking Bitcoiners. 2) These young people can be the Bitcoin evangelists for the community. 3) These young people can immediately begin with cleaning the lake front of Pana in exchange for Sats based on the model from Bitcoin Beach.
Since we will be working with Centro Educative Josue, the plan would be to provide Bitcoin nodes for the school as well to introduce computer science skills. Other Spanish speaking Bitcoiners are more than welcome to help as well.
To begin the circular economy, the children can be paid in Sats for doing chores modeled on Bitcoin Beach. In this case, cleaning lake Atitlan would be the initial goal. Since Pana is a vibrant town, there are many small shops, auto-rickshaw drivers, boat taxis, and craft vendors that are targets for Bitcoin adoption.
Pana’s economy is heavily dependent upon tourism. People from all over the world travel to Pana, so there’s a significant opportunity to have gringos participate in the “orange-pilling” of the town.
Travel to Pana
Pana is about 2–2.5 hours from Guatemala City depending on traffic. Private taxis are available to/from Pana.
The Town of Pana
Pana is a quaint city at an altitude of over 5000 feet. The evenings can be cool and while mosquitos can be an issue, malaria and other mosquito borne illnesses are not common because of the altitude.
Like most countries in this latitude, there is a wet season and a dry season. Heavy rains and flooding are common from about August through December.
The streets are busy with traffic from early morning until the evening but Pana is a walkable town. Any crime is likely petty theft and overall very safe.
Dogs do roam the streets and are generally non-threatening — but you should look where you walk for the occasional poop land mine.
There is a variety of food available from street vendors to Chinese, Italian, German and even high-end cuisine at Hotel Atitlan.
Sleeping accommodations range from hostels to Hotel Atitlan. VRBO and AIRBnB accommodations are available as well.
Pana has attracted ex-pats from around the world since the late ‘60’s. And many business are owned by ex-pats.
Late Atitlan is surrounded by villages and towns. Each one has its own unique character and crafts/artistry. These are all accessible by boat taxi on the lake front.
Parasailing, kayaking, zip lining, and fishing are available in and around the area.
Many wealthy Guatemalans own homes on the lake.
Follow @LakeBitcoin on Twitter for updates and progress.
Bitcoin Lake, BitcoinLake, Lago Bitcoin, LagoBitcoin and the “G” logo are trademarks of Patrick C. Melder, MD
Check out my podcast for additional updates: https://feeds.captivate.fm/mission-bitcoin/
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