Guatemala Offers? From Spirituality to Bumpy Roads.

Guatemala offers a lot of things!

Arriving at Guatemala City airport after such a long journey. I stepped out of the plane and noticed how the airport seemed a bit fallen apart, just by the look of the carpet and wall painting which had its own unique flair. Luckily my backpack had arrived safely as well and so I buckled up to walk outside. Wow, so what else Guatemala offers!?

So many local taxi men were standing there just as I had expected. I quickly found my way to the shuttle busses on the right side of the exit. I was lucky to bump into some other European and American travellers. They had it already figured out how to and their advice was very valuable for me.

You can go for 10$ directly from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua
White minibuses outside to the right of the airport

It was crazy! All the impressions on the road. The streets, the way people live. A kid was standing on the shoulders of her mother, throwing balles into the air – in the middle of a traffic crossing. The cars were half falling apart and I couldn’t believe how many Mazda cars were actually cruising around.

Antigua

One hour later, the minibus rolled into the bumpy roads of Antigua – Guatemala’s masterpiece I was told. Wow! I truly couldn’t believe that I had made it to my destination town at the other side of the world! The houses looked just like in the pictures I had seen before on the Internet. It turned out though that there were so many small roads which do actually look quite similarly. I wasn’t expecting this but thought it would be a tiny town. Instead it was absolutely vibrant. What a pleasant surprise!

I got off at the Central Parque. Locals were sitting under the beautiful green trees. Woman were selling colourful sarongs and kids small tourist goodies. It was Saturday and such a gorgeous day. Horses were passing by, serving as transport mechanism. Such a typical symbol of my Saturn in Sagittarius return! It was only 11 in the morning but my own time feeling told me other stories.

Finally, I sorted out the direction to the hostel which I had booked in London. Yay, eventually I made it to the hostel: A place called El Hostal. It was cute but at that moment I didn’t care too much. I was a bit exhausted. All what was important for me was to find my bed and go for a nap. The dorm windows were open and I heard the water of the fountain in the inside yard. What a beautiful sound to fall asleep to. In my dreams I realised though that my subconscious was actually a bit scared. Maybe you know what I talk about how you can get a special feeling in a dream. Mine was basically telling me that at some deep level I was a bit anxious, I had made it to my safe place but everything else what would happen on this trip was completely unknown from this moment on.

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After my one hour nap I headed out, back in the direction of the Central Park. My energy level was quiet low so I took a seat at one of the benches. I was just sitting there for a small piece of eternity, nothing to do but to observe this different place on earth. I was just after lunch time and the sun was up high. It was warm but not burning hot. Just so incredibly pleasant.

The occasional street seller stopped by and woman were engaging in some small talk. After a while a man was taking a seat on the bench next to me and after a few moments he started a dialogue as well. Where was I from and questions like that. I was surprised how good his English was and surprisingly our conversation was going all sorts of directions. He was very knowledgeable. Not sure how we got there exactly but at one point he took my hand to tell me about my energy flow while pressing all sorts of muscles in my hand. I never experienced getting those goose bumps by only pressing certain spots on the hand! It was magical.

Then he wanted to show me a nearby church. At first I was a bit sceptical. Maybe it was some sort of shady thing going on. A strategy to engage with tourists in a little nice conversation, then take them to some back alley and then robs them afterwards. But it felt so true and I went with him. It turned out that there was actually a church there, with a big façade of white and yellow colors. We stepped inside and he explained that these colors are symbols for the light. I told him that it was quite well done. I don’t imagine the light to be defined by the color yellow or white alone. It’s a mix and the church was displaying it.

Afterwards we took a seat on the grass of the close by open space. Here I was sitting under a palm tree in Guatemala with a man called Juan. Juan the doctor who told me that a person who is in his early stages of life needs to accomplish wealth first, before being able to serve the world. I’m thinking of the Maslow pyramid of a person’s needs. First food, a safe roof and so forth. Then look at celebrities or millionaires who seem to have transcended and who are then more capable of helping humanity.

Juan told me about his own life experiences and how at the early stage of his working life, he was accumulating money first. Eventually he realised that it is not just about money and how helping others through volunteering was so much more enriching, really making a difference. Twice a year or so, some institution from the States would come to Guatemala and through these monetary and pharmaceutical funds, h e is able to go out into the rural areas in his country to help. He was telling me, however, that the people living in the mountains or just off the villages, are more sceptical with regards to pills. They have their own healers. Sure pills can help but don’t forget the Placebo effect. He confessed that he had learned the hand massage through a local healer or shaman to be more precise. He told me that I may actually have something in my stomach.

I’m well aware that I need to work on my lower chakras and could relate to his argument. My rational site likes to blame my natal Sun square Saturn programmation and the currently ongoing Saturn return, yet knowing potential reasons is not the solution. I ask Juan if he knows of some magical button one could press in order to resolve all of “this”, to make life easier, and the conversation returns to the white and yellow colors of the church. Again, logically it makes sense, to always remember the light within, yet practically I confess that it’s not so easy when the wind is blowing in strong energy levels.

I tell Juan that I would better get going with my sightseeing tour and he laughs at me, saying I seemed so organised and German. At the same time he recognises that I definitely had touches of some other cultural influence which my spontaneous reaction to walk with him had shown. We headed back towards the Central Park and Juan bought me some water. Not sure if I looked particulary thirsty but he insisted and honestly, I was really craving some water but hadn’t managed to withdraw the local currency yet.

Then I kept walking and walking through the streets of Antigua, a maze formed of squares. 90 degrees and turn here and 90 degrees and turn there. Who knows if the design of the streets is related to the fact that the country is kind of close to the United States.

 

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I bump into a wedding celebration and can’t help but laugh out loud. I remember how at my last backpacking trip through Greece and Turkey, I run into so many weddings. Seems like the pattern should continue on this journey as well. The bride looked beautiful, who would have expected differently. The bridesmates were all wearing long, red dresses and obviously I was the only blond person around.

 

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I follow the flow of the streets and noticed how most people were walking into a certain direction. Then I discovered they were heading for the local market. Yay, how I love local markets! There is so incredibly much authenticity to be found. No display of goodies for tourism, just realness. What can be more real than locals buying local tomatoes at a market?

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I was cautious of my bag, carrying it in front of me. A man on a motorbike was driving through the street of the market and a young boy was sitting there with him. He looked me strangely in the eyes as if he wanted to say “What are you doing here? Are you here for entertainment? This shit is real.”

 

Lake Atitlan

The first real Guatemalan breakfast was so tasty. Obviously you shouldn’t picture one of the fancy and perfectionist Instagram snapshots of this meal but it was carrying culture with itself. The entire breakfast process to be honest: Ordering one of the three choices at exactly 7:30, battling the communication process with the heart-fully, warm looking woman who was preparing the breakfast. Omelette, baked beans and baked bananas. All served with a coffee con leche. Wonderful.

Eventually the shuttle arrived, a small minivan. I hopped on with a friendly “good morning” and was greeted by a handful of other travellers. We collected a couple of Asian travellers from a different place and where then heading towards San Marco. A special town at the famous Lake Atitlan.

The road was incredibly bumpy and the impressions from the window were breath-taking. Driving through the hills and when we were taking a downwards curve the wheels were making some strange noises. I was pretty certain that the sound of the wheels was actually trying to indicate some sort of grand finale. The situation got worse and worse the closer we got towards the lake. Picture huge volcano hills with rainforest vegetation. So green and a lot of trees and then some very bumpy serpentines which connect a couple of small villages.

In the end we had to change the plan. A road was closed due to some religious festivities, so we headed for San Pedro from where one could catch a ferry to San Marco. A Canadian girl and I buckeled up and headed for the cash machine. A few minutes later we were sitting on a small little ferry boat, listening to the calmness of lake Atilan.

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A Canadian travel girl who was also in the minivan had heard of a cool hostel, so that made it quiet convenient. It was called La Laguna or something. A hippie place with great view of the lake. The guy from the reception was a bit slow though. He said that his previous night was long. I was thinking that it may just be a different time dimension here.

In the afternoon I went for a walk around the small town of San Marco. Such a small place right at the lake and up the mountains, right in the jungle. There were no cars but small alleys along the waterfront. San Marco was known to be a spiritual place. There were awareness raising grafities reminding of love, peace and unity. Many shops had yoga, reiki or healing services. I noticed a paper on the wall which offered to get a Mayan astrological reading. Yes, it was definitely a hippie village.

I passed by the local church, a grey concrete building with speakers on the top. Women with colourful traditional Guatemalan dresses were standing in the doors. The place was totally packed. It was as if the entire village was right there at the church. I took a seat under a giant tree in front of the church yard and observed the happening. Just sitting there, watching the pavilion next door where a local band was doing some sort of soundcheck. Ocassionally the words “Si. Si. Si.” echoed out of the microphone.

I was just about to leave when the church ceremony finished. The pastor (or whatever you call the wise leader) was carrying the cross out of the church. The entire village people followed. It was so colourful and so full of black hair people.

I decided to follow the crowd, curious to find out where they would be going. At first, I felt strange though, I was the only tourist and didn’t want to come across as an invader of the local church event. So I decided to walk at the very end with them.

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The march went up the mountain and I was really surprised how high the village was turning out to be. The road was steep and I admired the pretty Guatemalan ladies to walk in high heels, not all of them but the one who was walking in front of me was. Some boys were in the back end of the crowd as well, goofing around and making fun of the song which was sung occasionally at certain stops. It seemed like there were these stops were the crowd was getting some sort of blessing which was underlined by some explosions. At one point some strange material was falling out of the sky. The ladies were covering their hair with their scarfs and if a man was lucky enough, he was granted to put his head under the scarf as well.

I need to say that despite the fact that I received the occasional smiles in return, I still felt completely like an alien. This was rural Guatemala and people living their own little life. The housing situation looked nothing like back in the West and I can only wonder how much money these people earn for a living. Most likely only a very small amount and maybe never be able to travel to Europe or to other far places in this world. It is so difficult to put this feeling into words.

I spent the evening with Kyle, a guy from California. We were hanging out at the lake, sitting in a boat on the shore. The sky was incredible dark and luckily Kyle had brought his flashlight. But you know what this means? An entire heaven full of the  most beautiful stars had opened up in front of us. It was truly unbelievable! We were debating which planet Jupiter was. There were two incredibly bright stars. One was a bit more orange then the other, so I wasn’t too sure. Looking at the stars always leaves me in wonder, but here at lake Atitlan it looked like the universe was unfolding differently. Maybe this is why Aldous Huxley had declared lake Atitlan to be the most beautiful lake in the world. Kyle was saying the same. He kind of sensed that it would be a special place. Picture a wide open space, water, and volcanoes surrounding the scenery – and now visualise a thunderstorm in the top of these volcanoes. Monsoon season was approaching.

We were just sitting there, looking at the stars and feeling the special energy. Kyle told stories about storms like these on other planets and that they would last for years. Isn’t it crazy how thunderstorms come to live in the first place? Balancing out negative energy loading? A means to bring balance? To get rid of the heat?

Kyle was pilot and explained how he would fly around a storm like this and due to technological advance the piolots are able to understand weather conditions from miles away. I kind of knew this before but hearing it straight from a pilot was something different! What I didn’t know, however, was that ocassionaly some strange objects would be flying through the sky! He explained how pilots were signing special contracts to keep their mouth shut. All for the purpose of not scaring society off from flying. He also told me about the governmental and secret service airplanes who are flying even higher than the normal passanger planes. Higher and faster.

See the inequality plays out once more?

 

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  • Faisal

    Fabulous post and you have a lovely way with words!

  • NowThatsAHoneymoon

    I love the bit where you bumped into a wedding. Must be a surreal experience having to pass by and see so much in the local community scene. Hopefully I get to visit Guatemala too!

  • Fairytale Studios

    That is such a good introduction and well outlined description of a country i knew nothing about. I like the way you segregate each area and also have separate sections for facts. I would like to borrow your way of writing to my blogs.

    • Aww, thank you so much! 🙂 If you like, we can do a guest blogging exchange sometime. Have a great week!

  • James Smith

    I’ve been all over Guatemala, I found it to be very safe with the exception of Guatemala City. Unfortunately an ex girlfriend of mine was killed here, I’d recommend solo women travelers to avoid the city. It is a beautiful country and the people wear such colorful clothes! Then there are the volcanoes, the lakes, the archaeological sites. Of course after reading your blog, you took in a lot more detail then me!

    • Seriously? Omg, that is aweful, really can’t believe what you are telling me here. So crazy. I didn’t go into the city luckily. Have a good week!

  • I worked in a small orphanage in Guatemala city during two months and spent almost every weekend in Antigua.This article brought back a lot of memories.Such a beautiful country with gorgeous people.Love the way you write and your pictures are wonderful!
    thanks for sharing your story

    • Oh how wonderful, it must have been an amazing experience to work in the orphanage! Thanks so much for your comment.

  • First, I love your pictures!
    And if Huxley says it´s the most beautiful lake then it must be true. He was a brilliant author 🙂

    • Oh yes, Huxley is fabulous and honestly, he inspired me to seek the lake in the first place. 🙂

  • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

    I’ve only been to Antigua and it really is the jewel of Guatemala – it’s just so pretty! I would really like to go to Lake Atitlan and visit more of this little-known country. Seems like you had a really nice time in Guatemala!

    • Wish I could go back to Antigua and the lovely vibes right now. 🙂 Have a great week girl!

  • Theresa Russell

    What a great introduction to Guatemala. The information here is quite useful. Glad to know that it is possible to catch a bus directly from the airport to Antigua.
    I want to go to Guatemala to visit Tikal. Did you get there?

    • Didn’t make it to Tikal unfortunately, had only 3 weeks to make it from Guatemala down to Panama. 🙂 But heard the best of it!

  • Nice looking trip. This is a part of the world I’m hoping to visit soon! Great blog!

    • effcaa

      Let me know how your experience will go!! Cheers from London 🙂