Hey Lago de Atitlan… we need to talk

Hey Lago de Atitlan… we need to talk

I feel silly for not staying longer and exploring more of the towns that surround your beautiful lake the last time I was here. I only saw Panajachel and I only stayed for one night. This time I have been committed to visiting more of your towns and staying for longer. You are my first stop in Guatemala and I’ve been looking forward to seeing you again.

   

San Pedro is my base from which to explore and I don’t need to tell you that it’s really amazing. I’d always heard that San Pedro is a crazy, drug, party town but I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that this is an outdated description. San Pedro is relaxed. Super relaxed.

It’s so relaxed that I was inspired to try yoga. I’m not sure if pretending that “I am a tree and then traveling in my mind to the cosmos” is for me, but the stretching stuff was pretty cool. When in Rome, hey?

I used this mantra a lot whilst on the lake actually.

“You wanna go horse riding?”

“Sure”

And where do you go horse riding in Guatemala? Up a volcano, of course. Stopping off in a coffee plantation, of course. On horses that have dread locks?

Of course.

Apart from being completely terrifyied, it was actually quite enjoyable.

Not everybody found it scary though. In fact, it was only me. Girls aren’t scared of horses. Neither are boys apparently. Just me. I felt quite emasculated.

To restore my manhood I needed to do something tough and manly. The cure was to kayak across the lake to San Marcos and jump off a 7 meter high platform into the lake. I recruited 5 girls to come with me (so I could be extra manly) and I didn’t take a map because real men just go by feel and intuition.

Real men also get quite lost quite often.

After several hours of aimlessly splashing around from one side of the lake to the other we decided that we weren’t going to find San Marcos. We didn’t know where it was or what it looked like and considering it was a 45 minute speed boat ride from Panajachel to San Pedro we calculated that it could quite easily take us all day to make it to San Marcos, even if we did know where it was, which we didn’t.

Fail.

Take 2.

The next day, to re-restore my manhood, I booked a speedboat to take me and 2 girls to San Marcos (less witnesses this time in case I managed to screw it up again). Of course San Marcos is about 200 meters past where we kayaked to the day before. Typical.

Deep breaths. Meditation. You are a tree. Go to the cosmos. OK. Let’s go jump off a cliff.

I had a blast up to this point and was feeling very in touch with nature and animals and the cosmos and my chi was centered and my shakra was open. Unfortunately my friend wasn’t as in touch with the animals. This became most evident when he was bitten by a rabid dog.

It’s kinda hard to put a positive spin on this one… but I’ll try.

How to you prevent rabies from setting in? You go to a traditional Mayan cleansing and healing ceremony, of course.

Fire and smoke and candles and wet branch face slapping and direction facing and elder body-touching (not in a weird catholic priest way) and chanting and, hey presto, we were cured of our ailments and blessed according to the day of our birth.

Awesome.

(no photos were permitted during the ceremony so you have to use your imagination).

My friend was not as convinced by the ceremony. Animals still weren’t getting along with him. A bird pooped on him halfway through the proceedings. This in mind, he decided to see a more ‘conventional’ doctor who informed us that he needed to get 5 rabies shots starting immediately and spread out over the next month or so. Where does he need to get this first injection? Let’s just say that the whole ordeal was a pain in the arse…

So I’m sad to say that we have to leave you. My friend leaves with a bit of a bad taste in his mouth, a sore bottom and a dog bite on his leg. I can understand the desire to move on. I leave spiritually cleansed and with my manhood restored (although being bitten by a dog probably out ranks cliff jumping on the manliness scale).

I’m off to visit my old friend, Antigua. She is a short bus ride away and I am looking forward to catching up with her.

I’m no good at saying goodbye, so by the time you read this I’ll probably already be gone.

TLH
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