Gate E14 at 4:35 AM. I’ve never been to the airport before at least one of the fourteen Starbucks locations is open.

I’m departing this morning on a 31 day vacation. After a layover this morning in Miami, I’m due to arrive in Guatemala City around 3:30 PM. From there I take a shuttle to the village of San Marcos La Laguna, on the northern shore of Lake Atitlan. The lake is at roughly 5,000 ft. above sea level and was created long ago in the basin of an old volcano. In fact, there are three volcanos in the immediate vicinity.

There are 14 villages surrounding the lake. Originally Mayan villages, they were resettled by missionaries in the early 1900s, after which 12 of the villages were renamed after the 12 apostles.

I’ll be staying at a small eco-hotel there called LaPaz. They have yoga and meditation sessions, as well as some basic massage and spa treatments offered. This isn’t the Canyon Ranch, however, as La Paz was recommended to me because it has hot, running water.

My friend Josh has been residing in San Marcos for many months now, and I’m looking forward to catching up with him. After many months of consideration, he sold his belongings, gave up his apartment, left his job and packed a large backpack with a one-way ticket to Guatemala.

I envy people who can move about so freely. I don’t consider my life any more “full” than Josh’s, but I do feel like I have too much going on in Minneapolis to just leave. I am, however, grateful, that I’ve been afforded the opportunity to take an extended vacation and visit.

After two weeks in Guatemala, I’ll be traveling to Puerto Vallarta by way of Mexico City. It was just this past New Year’s holiday that I first visited Vallarta, but it’s spell on me was immediate. The lifestyle there is so counter-intuitive to my natural speed. Slow and relaxed, as opposed to hectic and hurried in an effort for increased productivity. The weather certainly helps. The homes are open to the elements and the air off the ocean feels so much more life-giving than the air off the plains in the Midwest. There is an English-speaking AA club house in the old-town near where I’m staying. During my last visit there, I visited the club nearly daily and am looking forward to plugging into the community there again.

I have an hour yet before my flight departs. I’m off to exchange some currency and hunt down some coffee.

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