Saturday, February 6, 2010

Guatemala January 2010

So Rosemary and I made our first trip of the year to Guatemala. As I have mentioned previously, we were so in love with Lake Atitlan, that we were seriously considering trying to purchase property. It was so nice to see the lake during the dry season. It was not quite as green as it was last June, but still quite nice. We spent a night in Antigua and the following day we rode up to the lake and headed to San Marcos la Laguna. It is a quaint little village of hostels, holistic healing centers, dirt paths and what I would consider very relaxed new agey village. The locals have their parts in running things such as the girl who is the bread girl, the vegetable salesman, and the travelers selling their products along the paths hoping to make enough to get to their next destination. Many people come to San Marcos to take some kind of training in Reiki, acupuncture, massage, meditation, crystal energy work, etc....We think that the best place to stay in town is Posada Schumann. They have the best mattresses and very nicely built rooms with stone walls and upper and lower patios. My favorite thing is Norma and the attitude she throws to the customers. All she needs is a little flirtation and then she smiles and continues to throw smart ass comments flirtatiously back...She reminds me of he tortilla lady in Guinope, Honduras. Anyway.....We spent most of our time exploring the lake, hanging with the locals and asking alot of questions regarding the health of the lake. We had heard that the grey-water and black-water they are putting directly in the lake and full of phosphates that are promoting plant growth and algea was a major problem last year. I had already been concerned with the pollution bein put into the lake and how it will affect things. We hiked from San Marcos through Tzunana directly up a cliff for a mile or two to the tops of the mountains surrounding the lake. Next we walked above Jaibalito and Santa Cruz all the way to Solola. Solola has the best market that contained indigenous products consisting mainly of textiles and vegetables and paintings and just about any staple item we have here. The hike to Solola brought some of the most amazing overlooks I have ever seen. We walked through small villages and met the locals along the way which was one of Rosemary's goals. We explored San Pedro la Laguna as well as Panajachel. It was beautiful every day and we took advantage of it. Some of our favorite times were taking the tuk-tuk from San Pedro through San Pablo and ultimately ending back up in San Marcos as the sun was going down. In the evening the schools are getting out, the communities lite up with people and children playing in the street. The Mayans seem to be happy and pleased with their traditions and current situations. there des not seem to be much alcoholism in the communities surrounding the lake which was nice. Or maybe it is just that they keep the troubled people out of view, could be the case.

On one of the days, we took part in a cacao ceremony. It was basically a meditative session that lasted for 3 hours. the cacao is locally grown and is said to have been used in ceremony long ago before they started to use alcohol so much. We drank pure cacao mixed with pure brown cane sugar and chili sauce for spice. The cacao shaman then led us through the meditation on a large deck overlooking the lake in the trees. It was new for me, but there were obviously some people there who were healers and were specifically in the area to learn more healing techniques. It was a special gathering. Keith, the leader of ceremony, was definitely someone I connected with a little more than some of the people I had met in town. He was "out there", but then again, so am I at times. he was so full of passion and loved what he was sharing and serving and passing on within ceremony. The cacao actually did give me a buzz and during the meditation, I felt as if I were floating for a short period of time. Kind of like when you are on your way to sleep.....I was in that in-between state and maintaining that place for probably 5-10 minutes. It was nice and the surroundings were absolutely stunning.

So this time we were not so overflowing with excitement about the idea of living in such a far away place that we enjoy. We were noticing the reality of the country and some issues that we felt were not in our best interest yet. Deforestation, pollution, insecurity, and the health of the environment all due to the way they are dealing with poverty and pollution. It was sad to see whole mountainsides of pines being clear cut and nothing being planted in place. Deforestation is a major problem. Cutting down but not planting. There were alot of concerns I had in terms of investing money and they way the land is being treated. It is just not in our best interest to invest there, atleast not now.

I am so greatful for what we have here, the security we are given, the laws we have in place to protect us, and the cleanliness of the air and streets, and much more that we often take for granted or complain about her. Law enforcement is something we complain about alot of the time, but it is something I am thankful for. You don't know what you have until it is gone and that is something I love... I always appreciate the USA much better after a trip abroad.

So we made it home and immediately are shipping costumes, finishing costumes, and preparing for a quick trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, to deliver a costume, collect a check, and march in a few parades in costume.....what fun it is to have a girlfriend who knows how things run in New Orleans.

It is so nice to be home, I love the United States of America!!