Guatemala Day Three
I’m getting into a normal routine here where the dogs wake me up at 6:30 AM, I make my coffee and feed them, and then write for an hour or so on the porch – where I am now.
The dogs are grooming each other. Roosters in every direction are waking up the neighborhood. Various birds are singing their morning songs. The hummingbirds are zooming past me to the various flowers that Benjamin has throughout his yard.
Around 8:00 or 8:30 I will walk to La Paz. Per Benjamin’s instruction I let the dogs out to roam the village in the mornings. Zues will usually follow me to La Paz and stay with me for a while, but Shanti takes her time down the path and by the time I reach La Paz she’s nowhere to be found.
It’s still a bit unnerving for me to let the dogs roam free. No collars, no fence, just their own free will and the faith that they will return. At first I feared for their safety as well, but I’ve come to realize that most of the villagers know the dogs by name and as for the other dogs in town, well, Zues and Shanti are well cared for and well fed, hence they are the biggest dogs in town. They ain’t show’n no ribs 🙂
After breakfast yesterday I lounged at La Paz and finished The Alchemist. What a wonderful tale of following your heart and discovering your own personal legend. I also liked the theme carried throughout that people come into your life for a reason, though you usually don’t know the reason immediately.
That theme has certainly been true in my life, and I’m grateful for the many people in it. Even though at times I was not, or am not, the most welcome person to approach or be near, people have loved me, helped me, shown me what they know, and mentored me forward in life. Family members, friends, coworkersnd business associates, and most recently, those in recovery. It’s in this latter group of people that I met Josh, my friend here in San Marcos. He lived in one of my sober houses and did such a wonderful job following his own heart and seeking his own personal legend that he was at peace most of the time, and was a positive force in the house. When I purchased my second sober house, I asked him to live there and manage it. He did so for roughly two and a half years. Nobody could have done a finer job. In doing so he helped me, helped numerous residents, and I think helped himself along his own path.
Josh has been a good friend to me and showed me that straight men can be better friends than gay men at times. Its easy to get close to him, as there’s no sexual energy there. Aside from that aspect, he’s been a wonderful human being, always showing love, compassion, and wisdom. I am grateful he has come into my life. It is because of him that I am here in Guatemala and discovering the life around Lake Atitlan.
I returned to the house after finishing the book and took a short nap. Maggie came to get me at 10:00 for a birthday party we were to attend for one of Josh’s host family’s two year old son. Unfortuantely I slept through her knocking and missed the party. I felt bad, as I think it was important to Josh. He also baked a cake for the occasion that I missed out on.
I discovered Christina and Pete at the small porch at Blue Lili – a coffee shop along the path. They were weaving jewelry. Pete was showing Christina a specific method, but kept confusing himself, though Christina picked it up quickly despite. Christina made me a freshly squeezed fruit juice of mangos, pineapple and strawberries that was very good.
As we were sitting there chatting, one of the neighborhood dogs, a particularly scrawny, but adorable, puppy of a few months age, came running out of the shop with a full bag of bread in tow. Pulling at it with all his might, trying to get out of sight as fast as possible, but it was no use, as it must have been nearly as heavy as he was. We all laughed at the sight of it, but Christina grabbed it from his jaws. The dog simply looked up at her with it’s mouth open, tongue hanging out, and wagging its tail at her, as if it were a game. The darling little bugger continued to seek out food within the shop, acting as if nothing had happened and he were as innocent as he looked with that cute face and wagging tail.
Nadja, Josh, and Maggie returned to the neighborhood after their party. I apologized for sleeping through it. They seemed to think it was okay – I must have needed the rest. We returned to Casa de Benjamin, where Josh picked up some of his belongings that he was planning to give away. He also gave me two other books to read. One, Sidhartha, I have read before when I was about 17 years old. I had a hard time following it at the time, or perhaps I just didn’t have enough life experience or other necessary perspective, so I’ve decided to read it again.
It’s interesting in reading the introduction, a short bio of its author, Herman Hesse. It sounds as if his own life was quite interesting. Perhaps I will seek out a full-length biography next.
We returned to the path, as I needed to get a new jug of drinking water and dog food for Zues and Shanti. There were several people coming and going and mingling on the path, and they seemingly all know Josh. He takes his time and talks with everyone, exhibiting patience and compassion that I struggle with. As my sponsor says, I’m a work in progress, and I will continue to work on these things.
We made our way up the path to a bodega, where Josh showed me how to exchange the water jug for a new one, and how to get the dog food. We ran into yet more people in the store who greeted Josh as an old friend.
From here we went our separate ways. It was beginning to rain and the girls wanted to get back to their home in the hill before the downpour started and I was growing hungry.
I took my leave of them and returned to La Paz for the lunch menu. I had an open-faced sandwich served on toasted bread with tofu on one half and humus spread thickly on the other. It was delicious, though the next time I think I will stick with the humus. It’s probably the best hummus I have ever tasted.
I stayed around a while afterwards reading my new book and hoping to meet some of the others staying there. The rain was coming down with some regularity at this point, and I think it kept many people indoors, as only one other person came by. Her name was Michelle, a student facilitator for the yoga training course being conducted at the hotel. She lives in New Hampshire and this was her first journey out of the country, aside from Canada.
We chatted for a while, talking about what brought us to San Marcos and the energy found here. She told me about their yoga training and how she came to be a student facilitator. We talked about how GOOD the humus sandwhich was, and other things we were learning in the village.
I returned to Benjamin’s house for another siesta, as the rain left few other options. I awoke around 5:00 PM and the storm was in full force. Thunder and a downpour of rain. The dogs had not returned earlier, so I worried that they may be at the gate, waiting to be let in. I got dressed and put on my raincoat to check. Nothing, just a stream running down the path.
I walked up to La Paz to see if they were there, and happily they were. Wagging their tails and smiling in their own way, they greeted me. I was very happy to see them. I ordered a cafe americano, negro, and began reading again, waiting for the rain to subside. In about an hour’s time it did let up a bit and I returned the dogs to the house, and then went back to the hotel for dinner, where it’s served nightly at 7:00 PM.
It was getting quite dark by this time and I discovered I forgot my flashlight at the house. I returned down the path and came across a young man with a large backpack, encircled by four young local boys. “Buenos Noche” I greeted them. He responded in English, “Do you know of a hotel around here? Preferably cheap?” I realized he must have just come in off the dock and the youngsters were trying to hustle him for information.
I told him, “Yes, come with me.” Still raining, we returned to the house to obtain my flashlight, and then returned to La Paz, where he got a room.
In the restaurant I met a girl named Vanessa. She too had just arrived in San Marcos today. Rico, the newcomer I met on the path, joined us shortly and the three of us enjoyed the dinner together.
After eating we had coffee and sat for a couple of hours, discussing our journeys to San Marcos.
Vanessa had recently moved to Vancouver three months ago, but had been traveling for the past two. 25 years old and a nurse, her travels began in Hondouras and led her up to Guatemala, where she volunteered in an orphanize for a couple of weeks. She then made her way to Antigua and other towns, finally reaching Lake Attitlan a couple of days ago. She spent her first couple of nights in San Pedro, as it was her birthday and she heard that was the village to go to if you wanted to have a good time, but she quickly grew tired of it and came to San Marcos.
Rico, also 25, had been traveling for four months throughout Central America. He is Israeli and spent the previous six years in the military there. Six months of backpacking through central america was his reward to himself. He had visited many of the same places that Vanessa had, so they had much to talk about. He was very tired from his journey that day, having traveled from Antigua and transferring on many chicken buses – each one of which tried to hustle him for more money. Finally arriving at Pana, he took the ferry to San Marcos, having heard that this was a spiritual center on the lake.
Rico plans to return to University in Israel in a couple of months and is unsure if he wants to study Chinese Medicine or Economics. I told him I had just read The Alchemist, and to follow his heart. He read it as well and seemed happy that I had also.
We were joined late in the evening by two young guys, both named James. Tall James, with long blonde hair in a pony tail, and obviously one to imbibe on the local marijuana crop, was very friendly, with a permasmile affixed in place. He was here for the yoga training and visiting from Northern California. Short James, an Italian from New York, was also attending the yoga training, but it seemed that he fell into it while traveling through Central America, rather than planning the trip to attend it.
We all chatted for another hour. The guys were obviously all interested in Vanessa – the new cute blonde girl in the village. Rico was as well, but he was exhausted from his trip, and was also staying in the same dormitory as she, meaning he probably didn’t have to compete as hard as the other boys. Me, well I wasn’t seen as a rival 🙂
James and James offered us all a joint. Vanessa, Rico and myself declined. Vanessa went up to bed, and us four boys continued to chat while the ladies at La Paz closed the restaurant and let us be. We talked about oddities in the village. The third world environment with Elton John’s Greatest Hits playing on the restaurant stereo. James’ told us how it was amazing that he could buy a quarter to a half ounce of weed for only 100 Q. I talked about how I saw a hummingbird actually perched on a plant, and not buzzing its wings. Short James made a joke that even the hummingbirds here are on “Guatemala Time”. We all laughed at that, and the two smokers among us thought it was REALLY funny.
A short while later I returned to the house. It was only 10:00 PM, but I was ready for bed, where I read a bit more of my book and fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof with the dogs at my side.