Returning Stateside

Washing machine and electric stove

Air conditioning and kitten toes

snuggly soft firmness pushes consumption but also to earn

The rituals become lost

Left behind in the bumpy stiffnesss

Forced thoughtfulness and community that was once resented becomes missed

Long days of impactful work traded for laboring for a small dollar

Warm embraces for cool loneliness

Home still hasn’t been found but the houses multiply

The fear of the anchor is greater than that of crashing to shore.

Fluffy pillows and stacks of change

Animal fur and forgotten names

Month 3- Time to go

When I received the offer to return to Guatemala last November, it was a no brainer for me. I hadn’t been able to forget this magical country since I left in 2015. Plus, Trump had just become president of my country. I wanted to stay far away from that mess. The work sounded great, and it has been… mostly.

My Spanish is better than it has ever been. I saw myself transform into a pretty decent teacher. I made connections with teenagers and other teachers that are going to change Guatemala for the better, but it’s time for me to go.

There are several reason that I won’t go into now, but I still think Guatemala is a very special place and firmly believe that if this country changes, it will be changed by Guatemalans, not outsiders such as myself.

It’s time for me to go home now, and start working to make Kentucky and the US a better place. Running away from a terrible leader helps no one. I have several projects in the works that I’ll announce when they become more solid, but for the next few months at least, I’m going back to cooking and working outside.

Lake Atitlan: Day 1

Travel:

I used Magic Travels on my last trip from San Cristobal de las Casas to Huehuetenango, and thought it was perfect, easy, and fairly inexpensive. I used the same company from Huehuetenango to Panajachel. Although it arrived to Panajachel a couple hours later than I was originally told, the driver took me all the way to the lancha to catch a boat, and I was able to catch the last public boat leaving from Panajachel along the north shore at 7:30. Though, I have heard that sometimes the public boats stop running at sunset instead of the 7:30 time advertised. The boat from Pana to

Tzununa:

I stayed at the Humming Bird hostel, and it was nice enough (75Q). The owner is absolutely charming.

I ventured off on my own up the hill this morning in search some breakfast, and after asking a few locals along the way, I found the Bamboo Guest House and Restaurant. The breakfast I had there was delicious (bowl of fruit, eggs, plantains, potatoes, salsa, and coffee for 50Q), and I had great conversation with people that were staying there. The air bnb site says rooms are $45, but when I asked the owner about dorms, he said they were 100Q a night. I think it’s probably worth it for the awesome views and accommodating staff.

After breakfast, I went on a trek to search for waterfalls I had heard about. Someone told me there were thieves along the way, but some locals helped me find my way there. It was one of the most beautiful walks I’ve ever taken even though I didn’t get all the way to the big waterfall.  I plan to go back before I leave the lake.

San Marcos la Laguna:

This is the place to go if you’re looking for a massage, a yoga class, and some kombucha. I only endulged in the 26Q kombucha made in the same city.

I walked from Tzununa to San Marcos in about 30 minutes. Coming from the dock, you turn left by the soccer field and stay straight. On the way, I was wanting some lunch and stopped at Los Abrazos, the hugs. Los Abrazos is a Mayan owned restaurant, and the lovely women working there made me feel right at home. The food was exactly what I needed after my hot walk.

After, I tried to go to El Taller, a meditation center of sorts that I had heard about, but I was too intimidated by all the stylish hippies and weird climbing pathway to go all the way up. I opted instead for a swim and a lovely New Yorker helped me find my way to a nature reserve where I paid 15Q for a quick hop off of some rocks into the cool water. I spent some time drawing the shore line then headed back to the center of town next to the basketball court for veggie tacos at the taco stand there. Those tacos were every bit worth the money I paid for them. After, I left for Tzununa in tuktuk. It was totally worth the 5Q ride after my day of walking.

Impressions so far:

This place is way too expensive. Maybe Huehuetenango spoiled me, but I’m disappointed in what I’ve gotten for the prices I’ve paid. The views are killer, and if I had a bigger budget and a kitchen I could cook in, I may feel better about the situation. I’ve heard that just San Marcos and Tzununa are expensive. So I’m going to head to San Pedro and Panajachel tomorrow before meeting up with one of my dearest friends from Aguacatan.

Posada Abuelito & San Cris

I’ve stayed in many hostels during my travels, some better than others, but Posada Abuelito here in San Cristobal de las Casas is definitely in my top three. To me, there are three categories that make a great hostel: friendly and helpful local staff, clean and relaxing facility, and guests that are friendly and respectful travelers. It’s really hard to get all three in one hostel, but Posada Abuelito has done it. I’ve had wonderful conversations here with people from all over the world, and the staff is from San Cristobal. They know the city and have tips on what to do. The breakfasts in the morning are also delicious.

San Cris is a great place to visit on a budget. I was there four days. In that time, I stayed at the hostel, went to a yoga class, ate several meals at expensive restaurants, and bought a couple of craft pieces from the market. I spent less than $100.

I went on a “free” walking tour that leaves from the giant cross in the main square everyday at 10 am, and I suggest it. It was three and a half hours long. We went all around the city and learned a bit about history and current events as well as going to coffee, soup, and pox (a local liquor) tastings. It was interesting and definitely worth the 50 pesos I paid. Like most “free” things I’ve encountered as a tourist there was a healthy amount of pressure to purchase products from the places we stopped and a “minimal tip” of 20 pesos, but it was still a great deal.

My short trip to San Cris and all of the wonderful people I met there definitely inspired me to travel around more of Mexico in the future, but for now, I’m happy to be back in Guatemala