Friday, April 17, 2015
As I soak up some sunshine in our tropical back yard amongst the flowering vines and hummingbirds, some neighbors are sending celebratory explosives up into the air that shake me and shock me every time. They are a crucial component to an annual festival for San Marcos, and most, if not all pueblos, called la feria. They have been warming up their bombas for many days already, beginning at sunrise and exploding them well into the dark nights. In the small town centro, food vendors and carnival rides are being erected for the big event. Excitement is in the air.
We are one month into the 6-week rental of this lovely casita on Lake Atitlán. It has been a great spot to be while I work through a whole lot of physical challenges that I never saw coming. An intense clearing of a head cold, an accupuncture-induced clearing of the reproductive system and most recently some sort of digestive cleansing disaster that is slowly coming to an end. I made it!!!
The six and eight-legged wildlife here don't seem to realize that there is a boundary between the indoors and outdoors. I have relocated at least half a dozen scorpions of varying sizes from walls, floors and stairs. The spiders in the house outnumber us easily 20-1. (That's even a weak estimation.) The hugest one (a bit bigger than a toonie...for you Canadians) was living in our bedroom and we allowed him to hold his territory for the first few weeks because we hoped he was trapping and eating some of the mosquitoes. But the night he was hanging out right next to the light switch when I turned it on in the dark was his last night indoors. Most recently the tribes of ants have discovered our kitchen. Sigh. I am convinced that you must love bugs to live here in rural Guatemala. Looking back, the ayahuasca journey I participated in last fall prepared me for all of the creatures that I have encountered on this voyage. On a less creepy-crawly note, the tropical birdsong is so beautiful and the colorful lizards, hummingbirds and butterflies in the gardens and forests make up for the insects. The plants and flowers are incredible.
We visited medicinal plant cooperative last week and a woman gave us a tour of the herb gardens. She told us they are the third generation of women to continue the plant medicine traditions in the region with this cooperative. They learned from their grandmothers and have brought the knowledge forward from many generations before them. We brought home some delicious medicinal teas including horsetail and holy sage. Combined with fresh ginger, cinnamon bark and a hint of local honey, it tastes delicious!
We also walked through some small villages on our three-hour hike around the west end of the lake, from San Marcos to San Pedro, on the Saturday of Easter weekend. The Holy Week before and including Easter is called Semana Santa here. It's a really big deal in the Catholic tradition here. Each community lines their main streets with a coating of colorful sawdust and using various stencils, a whole team creates a beautiful carpet of perfectly manicured rainbow designs for the parades. There are also many weaving cooperatives around the lake. I want to support them all, but then I would have tons of cool colorful Guatemalan woven stuff and nowhere to put it! The empty space in our trunk is reserved for something else...
I finally admitted to myself that I needed some formal Spanish lessons a couple of times each week so that I can rise above kindergarten level with my conversations here, or in any Latin country I may find myself in. My maestro is a man from New York who lives here full time and is a key person responsible for the success of Konojel, the organization that we fasted and raised funds for a few weeks back. His humorous, light personality makes each class fun and I am learning a lot! I have also been supplementing for several months with the app Duolingo, with which you can learn many different languages. I have learned tons of Spanish vocabulary words with it. It's no substitute for a real conversation though!
The three of us seem to be receiving an ongoing message about water in our daily lives since being here in Guatemala. For approx. 20 out of 30 days in the current house (in addition to no water for a week in the first casa) we have had either no warm water or no water at all. The water heater went on a vacation for nearly 3 weeks and in between meeting nearly every plumber in this part of Guatemala, we managed to take cold trickle showers and heat our dish water on the gas stove. I admit though, that there has been something charming about hand washing our laundry in wash basins and sunshine drying it for the last couple of months. It's all been part of our adventure here!
(A few more bombas bursting with a bang in the background...)
So where are we headed next? Well as you may recall, we had both registered for a yoga teacher training course in Oaxaca, Mexico that was from March 21st for one month. It's now coming to a close and we are not there. We let them know that Guatemala got ahold of us in early March and that we wouldn't be attending this time around. They said "stop by for a visit anytime if you find yourselves around this area. We would love to meet you anyway!" Yoga trainings are happening all over the planet all the time so our perfect one will come when the timing is perfect.
Our main focus moving forward from here will be working with the spirit of cacao and sharing the cacao plant medicine. We had a meeting with the cacao tribe headquarters here and told them that we would really like to take a lot of cacao with us in the trunk of our little car when we depart in a couple of weeks. We have both been using the cacao medicine most days in one form or another for quite a few months. It's been a combo of delicious, healing and educational. We often do a shamanic drumming journey after consuming a ceremonial dose of the cacao. We have both received huge insights from this practice. We plan to weave our way back up through Mexico and eventually into the USA, sharing cacao magic all the way!
A huge finale of bombas just went off overhead. I think that means adios... for now.
Ps. If your community in North America (USA, Canada and Mexico) is in need of some cacao ceremonies, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work you into our travels.
*Stay tuned for a cacao tour schedule!
Ok...I just had to include this second PS. A Mayan woman selling magic mushrooms just came to our gate. You just never know what might be offered to you in the buffet of life!