Guatemala Day 11
I’ve discovered that if I weather the initial storm with the dogs in the morning that they’ll let me be and go back to sleep – which is exactly what I did, sleeping until around 8:00. I woke up and skipped the regular morning routine of coffee and writing and headed to LaPaz, where I did my writing with breakfast.
The yoga farm isn’t quite ready, so the yogis who are planning on visiting there have stayed an extra day here in San Marcos. Matt, one of the student instructors, joined me for breakfast. He began studying yoga at 14, but rowing was his primary interest as a teenager – rowing competitively in the Junior Olympics and into his first year at college. An injury forced him from rowing, when his interest focused in on yoga more intensely. He studied Buddhism and Religion at Harvard, where he graduated last year. He’s now here in San Marcos for the yoga training and will return to his hometown of San Francisco in 5 to 6 weeks after spending some time at the yoga farm. As we were talking he also mentioned that he worked on an ecological farming project on the mountainside with Josh earlier this year. On his return to San Francisco he’s hoping to teach Yoga and work for a friend who has recently started a raw foods meal replacement company that has distribution through Whole Foods.
After finishing my writing I headed over to the Internet Cafe to upload my blog post. On the days that I’m unable to get a signal, uploading is actually an exercise in transcribing from one digital medium (my iPad) to another (the public computers at the cafe). The cafe was full, without an open computer, so the dogs and I sat on the curbside greeting passers by and chatting with those we knew. Andy and Annie were at the cafe and Andy came over to confirm the shuttle time on Thursday morning. The two of them have been so helpful to me and they have no reason to be, other than a desire to be helpful. It’s very refreshing.
I stopped back at LaPaz to see if Sol was around and whether or not we were still on for the massage that day. He was, and confirmed we could meet at 2:00. LaPaz was abuzz with activity, one yoga class finishing up and the other waiting to begin. It seems the yogis appreciated their extra day in San Marcos as well, giving them more time to do laundry and wind down from the training course.
Shanti was off in the village somewhere doing her own thing, but Zeus was still hanging with me. I headed over to MoonFish to see what I could find for lunch. I was about to order my standard Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, when the pancakes jumped off the page at me! Whole wheat with yogurt, fruit and jam. I couldn’t help myself. Of course, the ever-present honey bees at MoonFish couldn’t help themselves either, but I managed.
I stopped at home for a quick shower and then headed over to Sol’s for my massage. Sol’s home is situated up a rocky hill from MoonFish, just along the shore of Lago Atitlan. Mara, Sol’s girlfriend, greeted me. It’s the first I’ve seen her in several days, as she’d spent the last three days in Andrew’s Dark Room. “Hola! How was the dark room?”
“It was a really good experience,” she told me with a smile. “I’m sorry, I just have to tidy up a bit. Can you wait outside for five minutes?”
I walked around to the rear of the house and took in the scenery. This truly was a magnificent spot to live! Perched about 30 or 40 feet above the shoreline below, with a clearing in the trees offering an unobstructed view of the lake and volcanoes in the distance. On the side of the house they had a fire pit and working area. It began to sprinkle a bit as I sat there, though the sun was still shining. I observed an old ferry boat used to transport people among the villages, anchored off-shore a bit in the lagoon below. A man was aboard tying on tarps and closing the window flaps, and when finished he swam ashore. I asked Sol who that was and he said it was the owner of the MoonFish cafe. I wonder if it’s his own little “fort” or if he spends his nights there, as I’d seen the boat there before and it doesn’t seem to get much use away from the shore.
Sol invited me in and we began the session in front of an open window overlooking the lake and the rain creating a constant tapping on the roof. Incense burning in the corner and a slight breeze coming in through the window. The setting alone would have been enough to send me into a blissful state.
The Thai massage was a new experience for me. It involved various stretches and applications of pressure. Sol also instructed me to breathe deeply, which I did throughout the session. Some of the stretches were quite foreign to me – one in particular had me lying on my stomach with one leg pulled up vertically behind me and then stretched forward as far as possible. Other stretches worked my hamstrings in pleasurable ways and the pressure he applied to my glutes was pointed and intense. Upon finishing I felt so good that I began to leave without paying him. He had to stop me as I began to walk up to his gate. I was quite embarrassed, but I’m sure it wasn’t the first time that’s happened.
I returned to Casa de Benjamin after my session with Sol. Though I had eaten a couple of hours prior, the body work seemed to have awoken some unforeseen hunger. I wondered if it got my intestines moving and emptied my stomach, or if perhaps I am just growing accustomed to all of the good food here in San Marcos. At home I took out the dragon fruit I had purchased from the path ladies the day before. Unsure of exactly how to eat it, I peeled off the skin and found the interior to be red with small seeds. Aside from the color, it appeared much like a kiwi on the inside, and tasted like one as well, though not quite as tart as a kiwi. The dragon fruit and a banana and I laid down for some reading and a siesta.
After my nap, Zeus and I went for a walk. Shanti, we discovered, was up at the internet cafe, perched outside. I hoped that she wasn’t there since this morning, thinking that I was still inside! These dogs are so wonderful – I’ll miss them when I leave.
Back to LaPaz for dinner. Some of the yogis came through but headed over to Ganesh for dinner. I ate the dinner special alone and read my book. After finishing an Israeli couple I met a few days prior stopped in to see what was for dinner. They opted to stay and I ordered a cup of green tea and stayed to chat with them.
I didn’t catch their names, but they are a couple – man and woman, both in their late twenties. I told them of the other Israeli I had met last week and of his travels. They told me that his travels, after his military service, is a common practice among Israelis. They described themselves as late-bloomers, not traveling until their late twenties.
I asked them about their life in Israel and they told me quite an interesting story. They had been involved in what they described as the “Youth Movement” as kids, and now older, are involved in the “Grown-up Movement”. I asked what the movement was seeking to do – was it a political or social cause of some sort? They told me about their Kabutz – I’m guessing on the spelling here. During the 80s and into the 90s, there was an economic downturn in Israel, and many families and friends formed a common living environment called a Kabutz. Everything was shared – clothing, food, money, responsibilities, etc. Over time and as the economy rose up again, Israeli society has stepped away from this lifestyle in favor of a more western, capitalist style of living. Their movement, as they described, is an effort to return to the Kabutz lifestyle. There are now four Kabutz communities across Israel that are a part of this movement, and they are working with people in Germany who are using a similar method there. While back in the Kabutz heydays of the 80s and 90s, up to 2,000 people might live in one Kabutz, though their own Kabutz is occupied by only 70 people. It was all quite fascinating!
I took my leave of the Israeli couple and headed over to Fe to see if Christina was working. I found her and short James, from New York, having a chat in-between Christina’s serving duties. There was only one couple in the restaurant, so she wasn’t very taxed. The other couple was British and James pointed out how when British people curse, it sounds so much more vulgar. We all agreed.
I ordered a piece of the lime cheesecake I enjoyed previously. It was just as good as I had remembered. Christina had no change for my 50 Q, so I was forced to order a piece of chocolate cake as well. A pity, really.
I sat and chatted with them for some time. James was planning a trip to New Orleans in the Fall and Christina, having grown up there, was making a list of places for him to visit. While doing so she reminisced about her life there and how the oil spill is ruining the natural beauty of the landscape.
Christina closed up the restaurant and the two of them invited me to Ganesh for some socializing. I declined and headed home.
Reflecting on the day I’ve come to think that the more time I spend in San Marcos, the more I become convinced that it’s stuck in a time warp back to the 60s generation of free love and radical politics, with a mix of new-age mysticism and yoga. I know of no other place quite like it.