WiFi, Acupuncture and Capitalism

Guatemala Day 6

Yesterday began with the normal routine with the dogs, coffee and writing. I then met Josh at LaPaz for his last Ensalada de Fruto breakfast there.

We talked for about an hour. I asked him about his stay in Lago Atitlan thus far and how he felt about moving back to the US for the summer. He talked about coming here after being so unhappy in Minnesota, not really thinking much about the decision, but just acting and moving forward. It wasn’t until after he arrived that he began to wonder just what he was going to do here. That passed, though, as he found a job, continued meeting people and becoming part of the community. He told me that the most important thing he did for himself was to make goals each day, and then set out to complete them.

As I’m thinking of goal-setting now, I do engage in the act, but I don’t think of it as goal-setting. I’ve generally made to-do lists, or running tabs in my head of things I have to get done. I’ll then mentally check them off as they’re completed. A feeling of satisfaction will come when I check something off the list, but the more profound feeling is one of relief – as in, “Phew, I’ve got that finished, I can rest a little now.”

Perhaps a change in perspective is in order. If I congratulate myself on a goal accomplished, rather than resting with a feeling of relief, maybe the task will take a different shape in my mind. I’m going to try this.

I stopped in at the internet cafe after breakfast and ran some errands around the village. Later I met up with Rico and Vanessa at LaPaz where they had just finished with the morning yoga class. Vanessa has really begun to enjoy the yoga and seems to be glad she tried it. Rico had signed up to meet with the therapist for acupuncture. It’s something he does quite regularly back home in Israel, and is hoping it will help his shoulder that he injured a few weeks ago while traveling. I decided to sign up after him, as I’ve never done it before but always been interested. Vanessa was referred to a massage therapist somewhere near the MoonFish Cafe, but didn’t know where it was, so we headed in that direction to explore.

There’s a hill just beyond the MoonFish. I knew that there was a hostel up there, but little else. The hill looks inviting, as there are large rocks creating a natural staircase along the shore up the hill. Vanessa journeyed over the hill and found Sol, the therapist’s home and made an appointment for a little later that afternoon. I stayed behind and ordered one of the MoonFish’s peanut butter sandwiches. Its a creation made of their own warm bread, sliced banana, with their own peanut butter and honey – truly spectacular! They grow all of their food right there at the restaurant. It’s so cool to me that these places are little self-sustaining venues. Vanessa went to use the toilet and found that even the bathrooms are eco-friendly – as they have a sign that says, “Solo Popo”, which she found to mean only one person can poop at a time, as there’s a bowl in which to do it. Apparently they use it as fertilizer or something, as there are no flushing toilets. She passed on the composting toilet opportunity and headed back to LaPaz to use the restroom there.

Rico stopped in at MoonFish as well, as he was told that they would have the World Cup game on, but there was no television in sight. He and I ventured up the western path towards Blind Lemons, where I knew there was a large TV with the game on. On our way there, we found a large group enjoying the game at the Ketcel – another hotel and restaurant in the area. Rico stayed there and I continued up the hill in hopes that Blind Lemons may have their internet WiFi back up.

To my surprise, the WiFi WAS back online – that made me happy! The service and menu there is lacking, though, but I made due, finally being able to order a carrot juice. I updated apps on my phone and iPad and uploaded some photos. I have yet to make them into a gallery, but you can be sure I’ll post them here when I do.

While at Blind Lemons, short James from New York came in and sat with me for a while. He was venting frustration at the yoga instructors course. On the spectrum of yoga practices, this one is a bit out in left field for him – as they get up every morning at 6:30 and bang drums in a group to bring out their individual inner animal spirits, interrupted every so often with “Three Minutes of Bliss” in which the group becomes silent and closes their eyes. His description sounded a bit too left field for me, too, but I told him about my experience with acceptance. It seemed unlikely he will change the instructor’s teaching style, but he could accept the situation, knowing he has only a few more days. He didn’t seem receptive of that idea, and began copying down lyrics of Lean on Me from the internet – hoping to introduce a group song at the next inner animal chanting session.

I went back to Benjamen’s for a short nap, after which I headed over to LaPaz for my acupuncture session. Rico was just finishing up his meeting with Michelle, the therapist. She was showing him some exercises to perform on his shoulder. These appeared new to him and he looked intrigued, so I hope they help.

We chatted for a moment and she lead me back to a small building where she performs her therapies. Zues and Shanti followed me through the jungle as they are prone to do. Michelle was familiar with the dogs and was surprised that they followed me right into the building. She said, of all the dogs in LaPaz, these dogs know they aren’t allowed in here! We shooed them out and closed the door. We could tell they were still outside, as one of them was wagging their tail rapidly into the door, banging it back and forth in the little wiggle room it had in the door frame. I enjoy these dogs so much!

We sat and discussed her therapies in general. I told her how I’ve always tended to run out of breath too soon. I’ve had asthma in the past, but since I stopped smoking three years ago, that’s subsided. She asked me a series of questions and decided she would concentrate on my heart as the focal point of her therapy session. I was a bit uneasy about the needles in general, but she demonstrated them to me and convinced me to give it a shot. I laid back and she placed needles between my eye brows, in my hands, elbows and ankles. Accompanying the acupuncture she also performed cranial sacral therapy – a practice that affects the cerebral fluid found only in the spinal cord and surrounding the brain. She instructed me to breathe deeply and the session was complete after about 20 minutes. She removed the needles and told me to take my time getting up. The sensation I had was a bit strange. I felt noticeably dizzy and my feet unnaturally light. The closest feeling I could use to describe it was the sensation you feel when you get off of a stairmaster or elliptical machine and walking feels strange again until you become acclimated to it.

Michelle told me to use aloe on my skin, but also to drink it, and to eat the flesh of a coconut. She also advised that I try the meditation sessions offered at the Pyramids – a central spot for those seeking spiritual growth here in San Marcos.

I had to run and meet up with the gang for dinner. A large group of us were meeting to send off Josh and Nadja, Maryjann and Pete. They are all planning departures in the next day or two. We met at Il Gardino, where Bertwan and Theresa served socialized with us. It turned out Nadja was not feeling well and stayed at home. The group consisted of Andrew, (The dark room guy), Julia (the Dutch filmmaker with the fabulous house atop the hill), Josh, myself, Mara (lives above the bookstore), Maryjann, Christina (the former farmer from northern California who works at the Blue Lili) Sol (the massage therapist that Vanessa went to), and Pete. There were a couple others who came and went throughout the night, but that was the core group. Most of us ordered the lasagna, with a couple of salads. Three folks also ordered dessert, but I abstained – I was so proud of myself! I also ordered tea instead of coffee and slept better as a result.

The discussions abounded with stories of the adventures that had taken place in San Marcos and the other pueblos on the lake. I took out my iPad to show pictures of Julia’s house. Nobody had seen an iPad before and everyone was enamored with it – this sort of technology hasn’t yet penetrated the Central American jungle. After the initial shock and awe, Julia was browsing through the photos and found one in particular, a shot of the view, looking over the valley and the lake, that had an odd, golden half-circle shape in it. There was debate for the rest of the night as to whether or not the shape was a UFO. We weren’t able to come to any other conclusion. Picture to come soon.

Do you think its a UFO?
Do you think its a UFO?

Later in the evening, Julia asked Sol what he thought of the expansion of San Marcos. Sol has lived here for 15 years, longer than anyone else in the group. He talked about how the village used to be comprised only of the indigenous people. Each village on the lake had a specialty and San Marcos produced traditional bags, made of small strands of rope, created by twisting together the fibers of a cactus plant. Andrew interjected with the story of how the land used to be held in common, but 25 years ago, the government changed the system and granted people land-ownership. At the time it seemed like a good thing, but it has only served to create a capitalist system here. Now foreigners with money have come in and purchased the land. Sol continued, saying that nobody used to work for anybody else and the land and resources were shared. Now most people have a boss, and work for a foreigner who has money, owns the land, and runs a business.

I thought about this last night. Its as if one society has overrun another, though not by war or force – more like a virus. It’s too bad, as the Mayan culture is being eradicated as time goes on.

I have to prep for a trip up to Nadja’s house, where we are departing on the dock for Pana, where I will say my goodbyes to them.