Thursday afternoon I was drawn to the lake. I wanted to be by water and unpack all that I’d been learning. If I were to share the exotic and mystical stories that we’ve been told, you might think me crazy… but that’s for another blog.
Lake Atitlan lies in a spectacular setting surrounded by 3 volcanoes: Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro. It’s found in the Sierra Madre mountain range and is a sparkling large blue lake at 12 miles long (19 km), 6 miles (10 km) wide with surface area spanning 49.3 square miles (127.7 square km). It is 1,049 ft (320 meters) deep, making it the deepest lake in Central America.
As writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley once stated in his 1943 travel book Beyond the Mexique Bay, “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlan is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.”
The easiest and most efficient way to travel around the lake is via a water taxi. They ferry both tourists, natives and wares to one of the many small towns that line the lake for Q5 ($.65) a stop, though you will be charged a tourist rate until you know the lay of the land - lol. Each little town has its own unique culture, style and attracts different kinds of travelers: tourists, backpackers, hippies, yogis… I am staying at San Marcos la laguna which surprised my lungs as the lake sits at an elevation of 5,125 lf; San Marcos is probably THE most hippy dippy place I’ve ever been. There is one main road that leads from the dock up to the little town of 2,200 and it is called the hippy highway. I have never seen so many health food stores, vegan/vegetarian restaurants and boho clothing stores dotted with locals selling their colorful textiles amassed in an area that covers ¼ mile!
One afternoon after class, I found my way to a cute little restaurant and was seated at a covered outdoor table (everything is outdoors) with a view overlooking the lake. I listened to expats chat at another table while a digital nomad behind me worked away tapping intently on her computer screen. I ordered a fresh mango smoothie and sat looking at the clouds slowly closing in around one of the volcanos warning us of an upcoming storm.
A man came through the restaurant selling nuts followed by a woman with a blue tub on her head and another cradled in her hands. Both tubs were covered with colorful towels, and as she walked away from a different table, I caught her eye. She came over and showed me the handmade fresh cheese wrapped in bright green corn husks. I bought a large piece of white (I had no idea the type - lol) cheese for Q25 ($3.25) and then asked what was in the other tub. She quietly whispered in a thick accent, “Magic mushrooms…” I deciphered that they were found and gathered high up in the mountains. I must admit to seriously considering a purchase, but didn’t feel comfortable administering my own session so close to my Mexican Bufo experience. I didn’t want to mix plant medicines as one experienced person told me, “These medicines don’t take kindly to interference by other medicines…”
So goes the days here in San Marcos, Guatemala. I am taking a 30 day metaphysical class with 7 women and 1 man. The countries represented are: Chili, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the US. SO much fun… Tonight we are all going to a cacao and fire ceremony. I’ll let you know how this experience unfolds!