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

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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.

Month 2

3/5

There’s something about living abroad that constantly reminds me that I’m a foreigner. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe it’s constantly being called gringa and extranjera in the street, or maybe it’s that I struggle to speak the language. Either way, this feeling has caused me to be incredibly timid. I’ve felt a fear of being alone and independent here in Guatemala that I’ve never felt anywhere else.

Today, I was on the phone with my mom, and I was telling her about my fear of traveling alone to Mexico at the end of the month. She said, “What has happened to you? You’re a total bad ass in the United States! Why are you letting Guatemala beat you down?” Conversations like these are why  it’s important to talk to your mother regularly.

My loss of bravery has dampened my effectiveness as a teacher and impacted my day to day life. It took me a week to muster up to courage to go to the mall by myself. What if I took the wrong bus? What if someone stole my bags? I have NEVER worried about these things anywhere else. I’ve always been an “everything works out” kind of thinker, but I suppose you have to hit the other extreme to find balance, or at least I do.

I have also been sick three times in the past two months. I’m thankful for a support system that has helped me to get to the doctor, buy medicine, and take a day off when I’ve needed it, but with the amount of work I have, I can’t really take a whole day off. The sicknesses are pushing me towards learning how to do things faster and being more diligent in my work.

So, this month, Guatemala taught me caution and diligence, and in the coming month, I hope to regain confidence in myself and my ability. I hope that Guate doesn’t teach the next lesson in such difficult ways.

To end on a high note, my students are amazing and show me so much love. When I have low days, interacting with them brings me up. One of my fifth graders gave me a valentine on the 14th, and it made my whole week.