Picture postcard town
A funny few days in Guatemala since I last wrote! And an interesting turn in events... read on!
As I mentioned, I was heading onto Lake Atitlan, which Aldous Huxley famously described as the most beautiful lake in the world. Surrounded by steep volcanoes and allegedly over 300m deep, it's certainly pretty stunning, but for me, Titicaca in Peru will never be surpassed. Sorry, Guatemala fans, just the personal opinion of a jaded old traveller, and based more on a emotional than visual level. But still, very lovely indeed!
To try and tap into the spirituality of the place I headed to San Marcos to check into Las Piramides, a new age meditation centre and retreat on the far side of the lake. Arriving at the dock by boat there are no roads visible, few houses, only rambling little paths heading into the woods and small handpainted signs advertising massage, reiki and organic cakes.
Randomly stumbling into a garden with people sitting cross legged under little pyramid frames I figured I must be close. Indeed I was, and soon checked into my room, which was a little shed shaped just like a pyramid! With windows at
Don't go there, girlfriend!
Women in the market. Check out the colourful clothes, the Mayans in Guatemala all wear these incredible bright traditional costumes.
the apex and aligned to the cardinal points, it was rather nice, and I had plenty of little insecty spidey type friends in there to keep me company. I was lucky, the guy in the next room had had four scorpions that week alone, I was very glad to have the mosquito net with me! Most people there were on the Full Moon course, a four week path to self-enlightenment, covering many different aspects of spirituality, which if it weren't for the wildlife I'd be quite interested to go back for. In my short stay we had meditation classes, yoga at dawn and a very interesting introduction to tarot cards!
From a pyramid shaped shed one night to a five star hotel next!
On the bus on the way back to Antigua I met an American girl. We clicked straight away. She was staying with a girlfriend in Guat city and, on hearing my tales of cold showers and spiders, took pity on me and invited me to go back and stay with them in their rather swanky five star hotel! Her friend was staying there on business and was apparently more than happy to take in a random stranger! Fantastic! I've stayed in a few posh hotels in my time, but with my backpack, unwashed hair and weird ethnic jewellery I felt like an alien in this wonderful, clean, marble world. Later, wrapped in a fluffy bath towel after a scalding hot power shower (using all the complimentary toiletries!) I started to relax. They leant me heels and a handbag and we headed out to party the night away at 'Paparazzi's', Guatemala City's hippest new nightclub!
Very, very bizarre to switch between the first and third worlds like that, to have to adjust your whole being - your state of mind, your appearance, your conversation and your perceived economic status in just a few hours. I think of my first day in the school in Otovalo, for the first time experiencing the poverty of the kids there; and now, here I am, drinking cocktails with two super-confident professional women. Again I'm observing it all like it's another world, yet this is my world, that's me on the business trip with the laptop and mobile. Even writing about it now seems somehow incredible, seeing my life as an independent observer.
But that's not the interesting turn of events that I mentioned at the start. Since before I left Ecuador I'd had a nagging feeling that it was time to go home. Without getting too instrospective here, I felt like I'd done what I set out to do, found what I was looking for and I'd reached a good place in my life. And rather than staying till the end of the month as originally planned, I took the positive decision to return home early. Guatemala is wonderful and I hope to go back someday. But I managed to get a flight on standby, which against all odds worked out, and I came home.
Now I'm back on my single bed in my old room at Mum and Dad's.
I feel very happy, very lucky and very loved.
I've had an incredible trip, seen amazing places, had some wonderful experiences and met some great people. But it's not just been inspirational, it's been a whole lot of fun too! ;-)
Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday.
And it really feels like the first day of the rest of my life.
And this is my last blog entry.
Thanks for being with me over the last three months or so. To everyone that said to me that they wished they could do the same - you can and you should! Go sail that ship!
Hasta luego amigos!
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