San Marcos La Laguna

As I prepare to leave San Pedro, I decide to check out one last place for breakfast – Zulu Cafe & Hostel, which offers a beautiful view of Lake Atitlan. I have Shakshouka for breakfast (Israeli eggs with tomatoes) – so simple but so good!
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Afterward I head to the lancha (Spanish for “dock”) and embark on a 20-minute boat ride to the other side of the lake.

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As soon as I get off the boat, I begin to feel the tranquil vibe of San Marcos. I check into a hostel – Circles Cafe. The owner, Becky, has cheerful vibe. The hostel is new and beautiful, its lush greenery reminds me of Bali.

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I meet a couple, Will and Laura, who are also staying here for the night. Laura tells me about a yoga class she is going to in an hour, to which I reply “great!”, eager to practice. First hour on the island and I’m already going to a yoga class. I’m loving San Marcos already.

An hour later I meet Will and Laura in front of Kaivalya Yoga – and we all stare at the locked door. It seems that yoga is cancelled due to a three-day spiritual festival around new year’s called “Cosmic Convergence”, and most of the spiritual community in town has gone there – which happens to be at another town in Lake Atitlan. Someone does come unlock the door for us, so we can walk around and see the place. It would have been lovely to do yoga here with an amazing view of the lake!

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Laura tells me about an area called the “Trampolina”, which is a wooden platform built on the edge of the cliffs. I decide I will go watch the sunset from there. On the way I check out Hotel Aaculux. It’s serene and quiet.

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I reach the trampolina, revering the sun set behind the volcanoes surrounding Lake Atitlan. Simultaneously, I watch people jump off the platform to the lake (its about 20-fee to free fall). If only I was a strong swimmer, I would have done the same!IMG_4889 IMG_4891

Later that night I go to hostel Del Lago (the most happening place in San Marcos in the evenings), and attend my first drum circle. Will and Laura are already there when I arrive. For an hour, I sit around the campfire with twenty others, and lose myself in the process of making sound through the drum.

Afterwards Will, Laura, and I, all head back to our hostel, conversing about a variety of topics, talking for two hours non-stop. We don’t stay up too late though, hoping to check out the 9am yoga class at Del Lago tomorrow. Which happens to be New Year’s Eve!

New Year’s Eve

Laura and I head to Del Lago at 9am – to find a beautiful platform over the lake. Unfortunately, the yoga instructor cancelled the class. Dammit, 0 for 2. A handful of us stay anyway, and practice yoga on our own for a bit.

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After I’m done, Laura and I head over to Keith’s home, a man who is famous here for his cacao ceremony. A few people have recommended this cacao ceremony to me, but beyond, “It’s great, you should check it out!”, I don’t know anything more about it. So I’m very curious. Arriving at Keith’s door, I find that the gate is locked; I figure he must be at this Cosmic event also. I feel a bit annoyed – why no sign or information? When will he be back? When are the ceremonies normally? I’ll have to come back later and check again…the old-fashioned method, where information is not at your fingertips.

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Afterwards Laura and I head back to our hostel. After having breakfast together, Laura and Will leave for San Pedro. I’m sad to see them leave, since they are cool people that I would have enjoyed spending more time with. I spend the remainder of the day reading books I had brought with me, and doing some reflection on 2014.

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There’s always so much to see and discover. I walked back to Keith’s place, and I found someone standing out front. I asked him about the Cacao Ceremony, and he told me it happens every Sunday and Wednesday at 12:30pm. Yes! I will be back on Sunday!

I walk a bit further and find another beautiful dock.

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New Year’s Eve itself turns out to be low key. I mostly spend it alone, first walking to Del Lago hostel. There weren’t many people there, the crowd mostly younger than 21.

I head to an area where the locals are playing loud music – but no one is really dancing, though people are hanging around. At midnight there are fireworks – but not in San Marcos. Instead I watch fireworks happen on the other side of the lake at San Pedro. Bummer. Oh, and I’m by myself. This is the less glamorous side of backpacking and traveling solo. I try not to feel alone and enjoy my solitude – but New Year’s Eve is one of the tougher moments to be solo.

By the way, the local kids in the region seem to sporadically ignite loud fireworks (M-80s) throughout the day, and bottle-rocket fireworks at night. This happened for a majority of my stay in Guatemala – the kids start at Christmas Eve, and go until January 2nd. As a result I mostly became immune to the M-80’s bomb-like sounds throughout the day.

New Year’s Day

I wake up in the morning to go to a yoga class, not knowing whether it would be cancelled or not. And…the third time is the charm! It is an interesting yoga session – the experience of practicing while being in a spiritual town, intermixed in the context of the Guatemalan culture. In this case, it’s doing yoga while local Guatemalan kids are popping M-80s in the background; as I attempt to practice silence within, my mind begins to drift among thoughts; the sudden explosions bring me back to the present moment.

After yoga class I walk around, admiring different places. Below is a garden at Las Piramides, a meditation center.

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There are flyers throughout town, advertising free meditation classes or courses one can take; these flyers exemplify the energy of San Marcos. If I had more time here, I’d try to take a course on Reiki.

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I spend the rest of the morning and afternoon writing in my gratitude journal, my travel journal, reading, and talking with random people, having a deep and long conversation with one of them.

This would be my last night in town. I am excited for tomorrow, when I will head up to the hills of San Marcos where I will be staying at Yoga Forest for a three-day yoga & meditation retreat.

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